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Inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s 1503 masterpiece, great Piece of turf, Mat Collishaw brings to life this famous Dürer watercolour study. The composition features a large piece of turf displaying wild plants like dandelions, creeping bent, meadow grass and hound’s tongue. Considered one of the masterpieces of Dürer’s nature studies, this work was primarily a tool to observe and reproduce the detail of the Bavarian landscape.
Mat Collishaw respectfully continues this minute observation and gives the roots and stems their own movement. The dynamic composition sways to a natural rhythm and the pale background imposes a sense of order and calm updating Dürer’s 16th century representation of nature into the 21st century.
Mat Collishaw (1966, Nottingham, uK) is associated with the yBA (young British Artist) generation. using diverse media, his art explores themes of beauty, seduction, suppressed desire and dark pleasure.
Collishaw received his BFA from Goldsmith, London, in 1989. His work Bullet Hole (1988) was exhibited in the now famous 1988 exhibition ‘Freeze’, presented in a disused warehouse and curated by Damien Hirst. This exhibition was attended by important art world figures including Charles Saatchi, Norman Rosenthal and Nicholas Serota, and launched the careers of manyof the yBA artists, including Collishaw.
Collishaw has described his interest in creating ‘images that are awe-inspiring’. His works use a visual language that is both romantic and sumptuous while also being unnerving and, at times, disturbing. Pornography, fairies, religion, bestiality and drug abuse have all been represented in the artist’s work. He is interested in the subliminal effect that imagery can have upon the viewer; playing upon this, he often fuses notions of the vile and desirable, the repulsive and inviting through his practice. Collishaw also meaningfully looks back at the history of art; his new-media artwork the end of Innocence draws upon paintings by both the Spanish seventeenth century artist Diego Velázquez and the Irish twentieth century artist Francis Bacon. In 1997, Collishaw’s work was included in the controversial exhibition ‘Sensation’ at the Royal Academy of Art, which showcased works from Charles Saatchi’s collection.
Collishaw explores the ideals and fascinations of Victorian society. Nineteenth century Britain defined itself with empirical soberness, in accordance with scientific progress. However, suppressed perversions also accompanied the Age of Enlightenment. Collishaw’s work references the Victorian period by simulating its elaborately decorative and romantic style, while indirectly conjuring up an essence of society’s dark side.
Over the past decade, he has had numerous international solo shows, including: Cohen Gallery, New york, 1992; Camden Arts Centre, London, 1996; Duty Free Spirits, Lisson Gallery, London, 1997; Galeria d’Arte Moderne, Bologna, Italy, 1999; Museum of Contemporary Art, Warsaw, 2000; Mat Collishaw, Art & Public, Geneva, 2004; Shooting Stars, Haunch of Venison, London, 2008; Hysteria, Freud Museum, London, 2009; Retrospectre, BFI Southbank, London, 2010; and Creation Condemned, Blain | Southern, 2010.
Group exhibitions include: Institute for Cultural anxiety, ICA, London, 1994; Here and now, Serpentine Gallery, London and Brilliant! new art From London, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, both 1995; Sensation, Royal Academy of Art, London, 1996; the edge of awareness, P.S.I, New york, 1998; Life/Live, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, (Paris) and The Brooklyn Museum, New york, 1998; new Blood, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2004; In the darkest Hour there May Be Light, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2006; and Mythologies, Haunch of Venison, London, 2009. Other Criteria and Thames & Hudson have published books with Collishaw’s work, and the Victoria & Albert Museum recently commissioned Collishaw to produce the monumental onsite project, Magic Lantern.
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