press release

Contemporary artist Mat Collishaw has created a new commission in response to the highly creative work of the late Georgian/Armenian film director and artist Sergei Paradjanov (1929 – 1990), whose work make him one of the most visionary directors of all time.

To coincide with our wider celebrations of the work of Paradjanov at BFI Southbank taking place in March, Collishaw has created a mesmerizing new exhibition for the Gallery inspired by the work of the Armenian director. For the project the artist has used a combination of antique objects and contemporary forms of moving image devices, from traditional photographic stills to digital imaging techniques in order to make a new installation which is defined by his very distinctive style and yet poetically conveys the spirit of Paradjanov's artistic endeavor.

Collishaw and Paradjanov share a very perceptive understanding of the mechanics of beauty, which they both exploit in their art, especially through the juxtaposition of heterogeneous elements, of framing devices and a sensual use of colour. In the influential Shadows of our Forgotten Ancestors (1964), Colour of Pomegranates (1968) and Ashik Kerib (1988), films which show Paradjanov's trademark style, each shot is a three-dimensional collage simultaneously self-standing and integral to the film, where heterogeneous elements are juxtaposed, framed and re-framed; where narrative is continuously fragmented. Similarly, in the Gallery, by projecting several, distinct images onto real historical objects, Collishaw fuses the moving image's two-dimensionality with the three-dimensionality of sculpture; furthermore the unexpected re-framing of the newly shot footage creates a sense of displacement. Collishaw uses digitally manipulated images he shot in Armenia together with found images – still and moving – which he frames within authentic, antique sculptural objects and which he distorts through the use of mirrors. In so doing the real is stylised and re-framed in order to convey further meaning and to create a fairytale-like world where good and evil, sacred and profane, love and violence merge.

Supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and Arts Council England.

Mat Collishaw
BFI Southbank