Matthew Krishanu makes works that convey the ambiguities of the postcolonial. Subtle shifts in register on the surface of his paintings imbue his subject matter with a sense of ambiguity and detachment. Through this Krishanu questions the positions of his subjects and depictions of landscapes in relation to the legacy of European colonialism. The subject matter of his works circles back to his early childhood spent in Dhaka where his parents moved to before he was one in order to work for the Church of Bangladesh.


Krishanu often employs a shallow pictorial depth and backgrounds that often veer into abstraction. Sometimes figures occupy those shallow spaces, existing in a liminal zone at a remove to their surroundings. This technique can be seen in a work such as 'Procession of Priests' (2020) in which nine priests walk barefoot in the same direction. On closer inspection it is apparent that there is one white priest in amongst this procession of South Asian faces. From a western perspective this is a small but important reversal; a lone white subject in a minority position. The painting subtly articulates the hybridised practices after the British had departed its colonies and speaks of the lives of those who lived in the postcolonial landscape. Empire might be history, but its effects persist, permeating the contemporary.


These are paintings that question where the space is for subjects who find themselves within a foreign, imperial narrative, an afterthought to the great ‘civilising’ mission. Often this is to be an observer rather than a participant, perhaps indeed observing the decline of that mission. His subjects might only be allowed marginal and precarious subject positions but there is a tenuous security in those positions, watching as imposed traditions slowly sink into the unforgiving land.


Matthew Krishanu (b.1980) was born in Bradford and based in London. He completed an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in 2009. Recent solo exhibitions at Dhaka Art Summit (2023); Mead Gallery, Warwick (2022); Coventry Biennial (2022); Huddersfield Art Gallery (2018);  Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham (2019); and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2019). He has recently been in the group institutional exhibitions ‘Mixing It Up’, Hayward Gallery (2021),  'John Moores Painting Prize' (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2021) 'Everyday Heroes' (Hayward Gallery/Southbank Centre, 2020) and 'A Rich Tapestry' (Lahore Biennale, 2020).