Mat Collishaw's Preternaturalia, Verona

August 23, 2013 by Kay

7th June - 14th September

Mat Collishaw is back at the FaMa Gallery with a solo show entitled PRETERNATURAL. The exhibition presents an important corpus composed of some of the artist’s most recent works as well as the Burning Butterflies series.

The Crystal GazeNo. 5is a three-dimensional image that progressively lights up to show a frozen landscape with a bird trapped in it, but it then reverts to darkness, leaving the spectator with only his own reflection. It is thus a path from light to darkness and vice-versa, inspired by the myth of Orpheus. Collishaw revisits it through the interpretations of Maurice Blanchot, Geoffrey Sirc and Jacques Lacan, and it becomes a symbol of the creative process, capable of compensating for loss – that of Eurydice in the Greek myth, that of reality for Collishaw – through artistic creation.

The previously unpublished series of the Burning Butterflies – of which the FaMa Gallery is showing twenty-five photographs of different sizes – returns to the indissoluble bond that links beauty and destruction with pictures of butterflies whose wings are inexorably devoured by flames. Here the image shows short-lived beauty that is destroyed in a matter of seconds, capturing it forever.

Likewise, part of the Insecticide series, Insecticide28 portrays the remains of a butterfly crushed on a surface, capturing it in an image of troubling beauty. In this case, the picture becomes a sort of petite mort, the representation of an existence that has just ceased to be.

The FaMa exhibitions also features three works from the Venal Muse series, created as a tribute to Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, in which the represented flowers – genetically modified, and pitted by scars and sores – appear to be consumed by unstoppable decay that mars their beauty. Through these pictures, once again Collishaw lingers over the allure of beauty and its corruption.