David Trigg speaks to the London-based painter Matthew Krishanu, whose figurative paintings explore themes of childhood, religion and the legacies of colonialism.
Matthew was raised in Bangladesh in the 1980s, a formative period which has inspired several bodies of work, from paintings based on his childhood adventures with his brother, to his Mission series addressing his father’s role as a priest in the church of Bangladesh, and his House of God paintings, which depict church buildings in the Bengal landscape.
Matthew’s paintings of religious meetings, ceremonies and churches are painted in a simple and abbreviated style with thin washes of paint and bold, assertive marks. Yet his uncomplicated aesthetic belies a complex web of historical and cultural undercurrents that serve to problematise his beguiling images.
Matthew’s interest in making paintings about religion led to his Religious Workers series, created for the Southbank Centre’s Everyday Heroes exhibition in autumn 2020, which responded to the Covid-19 pandemic with a vivid outdoor celebration of key and frontline workers.
Whether addressing religion, the legacies of Western imperialism, or the history of religious art, his works resist polemics, instead inviting conversation and contemplation.
Matthew’s first monograph will be published by Anomie Publishing in spring 2023: www.anomie-publishing.com/matthew-krishanu/