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Mat Collishaw - The Crystal Gaze

June 18, 2012 by Kay

Galleria Raucci/Santamaria 11 May - 20 July 2012

Mat Collishaw drives the spectator towards an unconventional perception of the suggestions pertaining to the themes of myth, history of art and Eros. The artist calls into question the icons of every age, inviting us to a new vision - at times introspective, at times provocative – keeping us from passive acceptance of his works.

Through the use of photography, sculpture and installations, often combined with technology – digital or otherwise – the artist distorts and modifies reality, introducing a disturbing element and consequently making it less familiar and reassuring. A motion of attraction/repulsion is thus created, which poses the problem of the relativity of meaning and of the significance of an image. Collishaw’s works are never univocal, always balancing between life and death, crepuscular and overwhelming, revealing the ambiguity of the relationship between reality, representation and perception.

Since 1993 Collishaw, then an up-and-coming representative of Young British Artists, established a long-lasting relationship with the Raucci-Santamaria gallery, and today presents “The Crystal Gaze”. The gallery has been transformed into a Victorian Age mirror hall,  by furnishing it with a set of mirrors mounted on luminous resin frames. Slowly lighting up, the frames make the reflecting surfaces disappear, revealing crystallised images. These are three-dimensional pictures of tropical birds and flowers photographed while immobilised in ice: still lives that slowly fade away as the light of the frames wanes, until they return to the initial state. In that respect, the works are like windows through which one can look at a tropical paradise perturbed by merciless and unusual weather conditions. The fading of the illumination makes these representations, enclosed in their glacial prison, even more fleeting and elusive. A perpetual cycle culminating in darkness, revealing the image of the spectator facing their own reflection.

The interpretative keys offered by Collishaw are diverse: on the one hand we have a study on the function of photography, capable of freezing an image in space and time, just like ice. On the other hand the artist, ever sensitive to the theme of the transience of beauty, erases the wilting of life and preserves the ephemeral in an enchanted image without age.