1/9unosunove is thrilled to present the new solo show by Mat Collishaw anticipating the major exhibition of the British artist at the Galleria Borghese in September. For this event, some of the historic halls of the Roman Museum will be holding a series of site specific interventions as a result of the close dialogue between the artist and Caravaggio’s masterpieces of the Borghese collection.
For the exhibition at 1/9unosunove, Mat Collishaw has selected a group of artworks among three of his most widely known series: Burning Flowers, Insecticide and Last Meal on Death Row.
Mat Collishaw constructs charming scenes through photography which crystallize the eternal instant of transition from life to the end of this. In both the series of photographs exhibited in the gallery and produced for the new commissions at the Galleria Borghese, the artist triggers a process of stratification of meanings and multiple readings through a series of latently perceived references to the art of past centuries. In Burning Flowers and Insecticide, the violence of the moment linked to the death is exalted by the beauty of the image itself recalling ‘the sublime’ of famous artistic representations of the martyrdom of christian saints according to a typical visual sensitivity of the Seventeenth Century art. Like the paintings of the Holy Martyrs by Guido Reni, these and many other works proposed by Collishaw seem to be tied to an aesthetic based on the collision/ encounter between the lust of the flesh and the brutality of the torture, an opposition similar to that of eros/ thanatos that creates in the viewer mixed feelings while giving the work a quasi mystical aura. Such a latent spirituality becomes manifest in Last Meal on Death Row in which the evocation of Christ’s Last Supper before tackling the martyrdom of the cross is immediate.
The religious substratum across the works in the show must not be read through a Christian lens and intended in the framework of a future redemption. It is rather presented as an uncanny element in itself and innate to human existence.
According to a visual harmony in the two rooms of the gallery, bright colors of crushed butterflies and burning flowers dialogue with the dark shades of still-life depictions of the last meals of death row inmates in America, and a very dark black Caravaggio-like background becomes the common strong visual feature throughout the series of photographs. The intense beauty and the tragedy in the images are perfectly portrayed, drawing the viewer’s gaze and forcing the mind to reflect, together with the artist, on the fragility of existence.
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