Mat Collishaw was born in 1966 in Nottingham, England and studied at Goldsmiths College in London. He lives and works in London.
Collishaw is most renowned for his photographs and video installations. His work combines the beautiful, seductive and sensual with an undercurrent of unnerving violent, repulsive imagery and psychological drama, examining and distorting our attraction and repulsion to particular images. Often, images are appropriated and digitally altered, the underlying theme being the relationship between representation and reality.
The Infectious Flowers (1996) light box series contains photographic images of particularly luscious looking flowers. On first encounter we are struck by their exquisite colours and shapes, formed by nature and enhanced by the technology of the medium. But closer inspection reveals their imperfections. The petals are not perfectly formed— areas are ravaged by, and almost pulsating with, disease. The titles identify not the exact species of flora but the cause of their disfigurement— infection by some of nature’s cruellest cancers. In this way, the viewer becomes both seduced and horrified. Collishaw was inspired by the story of a 19th century dandy who became so obsessed with flowers that he decided to lock himself away in a mansion filled with only his plants. His opulence became so much that the flowers became diseased, becoming a parallel to the sickening of his mind.
Collishaw was one of the artists to exhibit in the infamous Freeze exhibition in 1988 with one of his most well known works, that of an apparent bullet wound in the scalp of a human head blown up to an epic scale and presented over fifteen light boxes. Other early seminal group shows include Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1997; Brilliant! New Art from London, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1995 and Modern Medicine at Building One, London, 1990. His most recent solo exhibitions include Retrospectre, BFI, London, 2010 and Mat Collishaw, Submission, Haunch of Venison, Germany, 2009.