Born Jan. 6, 1966, in Nottingham, UK, Mat Collishaw studied at Goldsmiths College London in the 1980s, where he became part of a legendary generation of artists that would go down in history as the “Young British Artists” (YBAs), along with the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. This art movement became known for its tendency to challenge artistic traditions and its emphasis on questioning the boundaries of contemporary art.
Right from his earliest works, Mat Collishaw showed a keen interest in disturbing and provocative imagery. One of his earliest works, which is also one of his most significant, is Bullet Hole (1988): an enlarged photograph of a bullet wound found in a pathology manual. This work drew attention to violence and marked the beginning of a thematic strand that Collishaw would continue to explore throughout his career.
Over the years that followed, Collishaw took to the international stage with his innovative artistic output. He exhibited his work in major museums and art galleries around the world, including the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles as well as at the Venice Biennale.
The hallmark of Mat Collishaw’s art is arguably his ability to challenge convention and create artworks that prompt viewers to reflect on contemporary society and the nature of the image itself. Through his artistic production, Collishaw captures attention and stirs up emotions, prompting viewers to question issues such as violence, beauty, and technology.
One of the central themes in Collishaw’s work is the exploration of beauty and the sublime. His works often challenge traditional concepts of beauty, leading viewers to question their aesthetic perceptions. For example, his Last Meal on Death Row series presents detailed photographs of last meals requested by those sentenced to death. These images evoke a sense of unease while at the same time raising questions about the meaning of beauty in such tragic and controversial contexts.
Through the use of sophisticated printing techniques, Collishaw manages to transform a simple image into something powerful and disturbing, raising questions about the nature of violence in contemporary society.
Collishaw has also made innovative use of technology, going so far as to experiment with virtual reality to create immersive experiences that engage viewers in a unique manner. A notable example is Thresholds, an installation that allowed visitors to virtually immerse themselves in the display of William Henry Fox Talbot’s first exhibition of photographs in 1839. Collishaw thus uses technology to transport the audience to another era, offering a new and engaging perspective on art history.
Through his works, Mat Collishaw also addresses social and political issues in contemporary society. He often critiques our culture’s obsession with imagery and consumption, expressing his views through installations and works that challenge ideals of beauty and the superficiality of images. Collishaw explores how technology and media affect our perception of reality, emphasizing the social and psychological implications of this constant visual exposure. Collishaw’s works invite viewers to reflect on the consequences of individual and collective choices, violence, morality, and human frailty. His provocative approach sets out to shake viewers and lead them to question their role in society as well as the power dynamics that govern its evolution.
Mat Collishaw’s works have been exhibited in numerous museums and public collections worldwide, including: Tate, London, UK; Somerset House, London, UK; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK; Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy; Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali, Bari, Italy; Bass Museum of Art, Florida, USA; Freud Museum, London, UK; Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna, Italy; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris, France; Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA; Museo di Roma, Rome, Italy; MNAC, Barcelona, Spain; Arter Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey; British Council Collection, London, UK; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin, Italy; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, USA; Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania,Australia; Olbricht Collection, Berlin, Germany; and the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.