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Mat Collishaw at Galleria Borghese, Rome

October 8, 2014 by Ishah

8 October 2014 – 11 January 2015

Mat Collishaw is one of ten artists featuring in Contemporary Assignments, a project created as part of The Great Shows series at Galleria Borghese, Rome. Each exhibition is set alongside the collection's masterpieces, aiming to complement each work yet bringing interventions of contemporary art throughout the rooms.

Collishaw takes inspiration from three paintings of Caravaggio for his haunting Black Mirror exhibition. The three video pieces are framed in black Murano glass that illuminate lurking figures appearing and then disappearing before us behind the mirror as if trapped in purgatory.

Collishaw purposefully creates a unity between dual worlds within his work. Collishaw suggests: “The three works based on the Caravaggio paintings attempt to reflect a glimmer of the scene set up in the artist’s studio. The lorwly figures who have been asked to adopt a pose and stand with a few props as they are transformed into religious icons. These paintings are paradoxical because the models used are relatively mundane and humble, yet the composition and the lighting invests them with an almost supernatural aura.”

Collishaw's celebrated zoetrope ‘All Things Fall’ inspired by The Massacre of the Innocents painting resonates horror, brutality and the continuous struggle within the scene. Of the zoetrope, Collishaw says: “The Massacre of the Innocents paintings function in a very different way to the Caravaggio paintings. Whereas the Caravaggio paintings are a solitary and melancholic, The Massacre of the Innocents paintings thrive on the repetition of characters spread across the canvas. They are designed to excite our emotions and to keep our eyes moving around the surface in an agitated manner without intimacy and with no focal point. The zoetrope capitalises on this, literally repeating characters to create an overwhelming orgy of violence that is simultaneously appalling and compelling.”

The exhibition is supported by the British Council. 

View a short film documenting Mat Collishaw's Black Mirror exhibition here.