'Images that are purely offensive give you an instant fix, but I want to make pictures that last longer than that. On the surface they shock or seduce you, but I want there to be undercurrents that make you wonder about other implications'
(M. Collishaw, quoted in R. Campbell-Johnston, 'Mat Collishaw: a shock-jock's deliverance', in The Times, 2 April 2008).
An exquisitely rendered mosaic depicting the face of Madonna, a devotional image of the Virgin Mary in Christian iconography, Mat Collishaw's large-scale portrait presents a close-up of the Virgin Mary's face, omitting the traditional features of child and halo. Executed in 2002 and constructed with monochromatic ceramic squares, Madonna appears ominous and haunting, a stark contrast to religious illustrations often portraying her with a blue head dress and richly adorned with gold. A reference to the Byzantine tradition of creating luxurious and opulent mosaics for worship, Collishaw plays with the notion of ritual, tradition and worship, in an almost iconoclastic gesture of defiance against these established conventions. Like other works in his oeuvre, Madonna spans more than one media, appearing like a photograph from afar, with each ceramic square simulating the pixels of a digital print, and simultaneously alluding to the long tradition of painting religious icons in devotional painting.
Born in 1966, Collishaw began his career in the acclaimed Freeze exhibition in 1989, a show which would launch these artists as Britain's YBAs. Since his participation in this exhibition, Collishaw has continued to create works that explore the dark corners and taboos of contemporary culture, always in a consummately poetic manner.