Mat Collishaw: THIS IS NOT AN EXIT at Blain Southern Gallery
Marking Collishaw’s second exhibition at Blain Southern Gallery, it is clear to see the Goldsmiths University alumnus has taken a new visual and creative route in representing his unique take on modern art. All of the pieces are oil paint on large canvases, displayed in two parts, affording viewers an intriguing transition through the differing themes of the artist’s particular brand of social analysis.
Known for his bold and interpretive works, the artist takes inspiration from pedestrian illusions, coupled with desire, found in both love and everyday life.
The exhibition starts with an unexpected timidity: seven sequenced images on diamond canvases in varying pastel tones. The paintings draw you in with a delicate attractiveness, enhanced by gentle brush strokes, giving an almost feather-like effect and lending a three-dimensional, photographic tactility to the work.
The first piece Whisky River (2012) is the most dynamic of the initial installments. In a sepia-tone depiction of a folded image, possibly of a magazine or photograph with an unknown subject matter, Collishaw has recreated the effect of fading caused by the friction of folding paper multiple times in a faceted, intricate pattern. He has done this with detailed brush work, giving a palpable look to an otherwise unremarkable visual stimulus. The piece harvests some necessary impact by displaying what appears to be body tissue protruding through the unknown medium, referencing earlier work, Bullet Hole (1988). There, he produced a dauntless close-up image of a gunshot wound to the head – a piece he claims is for socio-political importance, not shock value – per contra, a distant dramaturgy from this current exhibit.
The second part of the exhibition comes as a splendid shot in the proverbial arm: seven pieces full of style and passion. Highlights include Amor (2012), a portrait of a fragmented woman’s face bearing an ambiguous expression, creating an unassuming salaciousness of mystery and intrigue; also Forbidden Fruit (2012) – a composition of ornate décor mixed with the organic inclusion of a woman’s hand. The work recalls the famed Clockwork Orange imagery of the 70s, perhaps touching on the media themes throughout the display, to engrossing results.
This is a deliberately unobtrusive collection, relying on cohesive and thought provoking ideas seamlessly blended with the archetypal talent of a diverse and experienced artist.