Blain|Southern opens its London gallery with
‘Creation Condemned’, an exhibition of new
work by British artist Mat Collishaw. For this
show, Collishaw juxtaposes potent visions
of the natural and supernatural worlds with
traditional sculptural forms to explore creation
and destruction, beauty and torture.
In ‘Performance’, a swarm of butterflies are
engulfed in flames as they take flight. The
violence is unrelenting but has a hypnotic
beauty, holding the eye like the embers of a
fire. The film is set within an altarpiece: once a
glossy display case for the celestial suffering
of the saints, now a charred and melancholy
acknowledgement of the malice it confines.
Fire is used to different effect in ‘Auto-
Immolation’. An imposing red orchid
suspended in a glass sealed cabinet is licked
by a creeping blue flame as it unfolds into life;
its petals open to reveal a menacingly beautiful
display of vitality in its deathly surroundings.
Crimson sap cascades down the orchid’s stem
and its labellum unfolds coquettishly. Unlike the butterflies, fire appears to give rather than take life,
and yet the outcome is the same. Nature takes its inexorable path. The flower is corporeal; however
brightly it burns in its lifetime it will go the way of all matter.
‘For Your Eyes Only’, a three-part video tableaux of a pole-dancer, is set within separate altarpieces.
By using three screens Collishaw alludes to Christ on the Cross flanked by two thieves, the dancer’s
pole recalling the stem of the crucifix. The artist draws a parallel between ancient religious rites and
sordid acts of contemporary life to create a composition of explicit allure.
In contrast to these intrinsically digital works, ‘Superveillance’ transposes Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s
baroque masterpiece the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa into a lithophane. Illumination is provided by
a scanner that, much the same as a Xerox, roves in an unbroken line behind the sculpture. The
Corian, acrylic, steel, lights, electrical circuitry.
156 X 248 X 15cm © the artist
photocopier is the antithesis to the artistic process; clinical and providing an inferior representation,
yet here the artist uses it to gradually reveal the carving in the same manner as the heavenly shafts of
light found in religious paintings.
Finally, ‘Lost Prophet’ shows one of the two monumental Buddha sculptures hewn from the cliffs
of Bamiyan, Afghanistan, after it was destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. The Taliban was so enraged
by the depiction of a deity other than Allah that they annihilated it with dynamite and rockets. The
desecrated Buddha appears only momentarily, requiring the interaction of light and substance to
Collishaw’s work reveals an ongoing preoccupation with representational techniques, how we
consume imagery, and with visual devices that beguile the human eye. The artist is typically
interested in images which are at once alluring and disturbing, which elicit ambivalent feelings of
enchantment and disenchantment, attraction and repulsion.
For further information and images please contact Mark Inglefield
T: +44 758 419 9500
Notes to editors:
Mat Collishaw (b. 1966) is a key figure in the important generation of British artists who emerged
from Goldsmith’s College in the late 1980s. He participated in Freeze (1988) and since his first solo
exhibition in 1990 has exhibited widely internationally. Collishaw’s work is in important museum
collections including Tate, London, and Centre Pompidou, Paris. Recent solo exhibitions have
taken place at Haunch of Venison (Berlin) (2009), ‘Deliverance’ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
(2008), ‘Nebulaphobia’ Unosunove, Rome (2009), the Freud Museum, London (2009), the British Film
Institute (2010) and Raucci/Santamaria, Naples (2010). Collishaw lives and works in London.
Blain|Southern was established in September 2010 by Harry Blain and Graham Southern. This is the
gallery’s inaugural exhibition.