Mat Collishaw: All Things Fall | The Bomb Factory

Until seeing this show by chance yesterday, I admit that I was totally unfamiliar with Mat Collishaw’s work. I only knew him as Tracey Emin’s fellow-YBA ex. But if these delightful spectacles are representative of what he does generally, I’m well up for seeing more.

All Things Fall is a people pleasing mix of paintings on raw linen, animatronic animals and a zoetrope. Despite the show notes describing Collishaw’s art as “dark”, nothing’s actually disturbing here. The children with parents wandering through the gallery, drawn in by its super-prominent corner location on Euston Road and Baker Street, were clearly having a whale of a time.

Mat Collishaw ’All Things Fall’ (2014) ’All Things Fall’ (2014)

I think the children got more out of the exhibition than the adults who read the notes, actually. The spectacle’s the thing - the back story is disappointingly lame. A big metal robot stag that occasionally stamps its foot (Insilico) looks really cool. The cool factor diminishes a bit when you read that the stamping is powered by algorithmic analysis of mean posts on Twitter.

Similarly, the gorgeous white-on-raw-linen paintings of motion-blurred deers and other animals (the Palantir series from 2022) are best enjoyed without having read Collishaw’s explanation that they were inspired by the “primal herd instinct” of social media, and are “a shadowy record of the predator and its prey”.

I deliberately didn’t look up exactly what the inspiration was for All Things Fall, Collishaw’s sculpture of a heavily-populated classical temple-like structure that lends the exhibition its name. But I was thoroughly taken by the little animated muscle men who started to beat each other up, floor strewn with bodies of the fallen, as the zoetrope span.

I’m sure it was a comment on capitalistic digital surveillance or whatever, but the fact remains, it looked great.

Mat Collishaw: All Things Fall is at The Bomb Factory (London). 20 April - 21 May 2023