Mat Collishaw: Afterimage
Mat Collishaw

Curator: Başak Doğa Temür

2 May-11 August 2013
Mat Collishaw
"Ganymede" (2007)
Steel, resin, smoke machine, fluid, extraction fan, video projector and DVD player
180 × 100 × 100 cm
Courtesy Blain|Southern
Mat Collishaw
"Garden of Unearthly Delights" (2009)
Steel, aluminium, plaster, resin, LED lights, motor
Zoetrope disc, diameter: 200 cm
179 × 200 × 200 cm (without guard)
179 × 385 × 385 cm (with guard)
Mat Collishaw
"The Venal Muse, Viridor" (2012), detail
Resin, enamel paint, wood, glass, steel
162,56 × 52 × 52 cm
Courtesy Blain|Southern
Arter featured Mat Collishaw's first solo exhibition in Istanbul between 2 May and 11 August 2013. Entitled "Afterimage", the exhibition was curated by Başak Doğa Temür and brought together 18 works dating from the 90s to the present. It also featured a new video installation funded by the Vehbi Koç Foundation, which the artist has produced exclusively for this exhibition and was premiered at Arter.

Mat Collishaw has been exploring the darker side of human nature by using the power of images in his artistic production,  which spans a period of over 20 years. In his photographs, oil paintings, sculptures and installations he delicately brings together pain and beauty, loss and light, decay and innocence. Inspired by the potential for emotional manipulation inherent in the image, Collishaw's work employs beautiful, inviting and seductive images in order to tackle concepts such as despair, disease and evil.

The exhibition took its title from a term used to describe a specific optical illusion, whereby an image continues to exist even after the stimulation. In this sense, "Afterimage" could be thought of as a key concept in understanding Collishaw's visual approach and works.

"Afterimage" presented a selection of Collishaw's works that form the myriad intersections of media, material and conceptual themes: his photographs, sculptures and installations that use light, surface and projection in unconventional ways. His work brings together all types of still and moving image production techniques, from old photographic techniques and equipment to LCD screens. Light, in Collishaw's work, is both something that draws focus to itself, and a technical medium used to direct focus upon other things. In addition to light sources such as UV lamps or scanner light, in works like "Garden of Unearthly Delights" and "Deliverance", he also utilises stage tools such as flashers and spotlights.

Collishaw often combines this use of advanced technology with references from art history to create a fascinating aesthetic. In "Superveillance", for instance, he uses the image of Bernini's marble sculpture entitled "Ecstasy of Saint Teresa". In the work, a mechanical light moves vertically behind the image like a desktop scanner, imitating the beams in the Bernini original. For "Island of the Dead", Collishaw built a three dimensional map of Arnold Böcklin's "The Isle of the Dead" using a computer program and introduced a light source to imitate the sun that moves around the island. "Whispering Weeds" animates the weeds in Albrecht Dürer's watercolour painting "The Great Piece of Turf" (1503). It appears as if the weeds are softly rustling in the breeze—the work almost has the air of a hypnotic screensaver.

"Prize Crop", the video installation produced for the exhibition at Arter, is a 3D animation where he sets in motion photojournalist Kevin Carter's iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning 1993 photograph entitled "Famine in Sudan".

The artist also borrows various elements of nature in his work: butterflies, birds, savage dogs or flowers. "The Venal Muse" is a work that pays homage to Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal and features diseased or wounded flowers made of artificial resin, sprouting out of lead-coloured soil. On close inspection their fine petals have a flesh-like appearance, with anthropomorphic scars and sores pitting the skin. They are reflections on the depraved state of modern, media-saturated culture or spectres of genetic manipulation.