For everybody in New York, the underground filmmaker Jeff Keen is having a
major retrospective of paintings and films. Check it out.
Works from the 1960s + 1970s
January 12 – February 11, 2012
Opening Thursday, January 12, 6-8PM
Elizabeth Dee Gallery is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition at the
gallery and United States debut of paintings and films by Jeff Keen [b. 1923,
UK]. This important first exhibition in New York will explore in depth Keen's
most influential and fundamental period of work, the 1960s and 1970s, during
which he established a prolific visual practice extending to five decades of
drawing, painting, experimental film, concrete poetry and performance.
Keen is primarily known as a legendary underground filmmaker whose work and
activities coincided with the emergence of expanded cinema. He was one of the
original participants in the 60s at the London Filmmakers Co-op. The BFI and
later the British Arts Council supported and enabled Keen to make films and
devise a multitude of drawings and paintings. During this period, Keen
maintained jobs as a landscaper in the Parks and Recreation department of his
hometown, Brighton, and sometimes as a postal worker delivering mail. The
artist made movies primarily on weekends with his family and friends in an
ensemble cast and his painting and drawing studio was for 40 years a repository
of props and art that accumulated to extraordinary effect that has been fully
Embracing the increasingly available technology of 8mm, 16mm and prevelance of
American Pop imagery and Comics [and later Punk], Keen employed modes of
popular media, technology and music in painting, drawing and collage using a
stop frame animation process and in camera editing, resulting in active and
evocative films. Utilizing a frequency of speed not found in work of the
period, Keen, through the possibilities of the medium, brought new life to the
significance of radical visual media.
Keen was able to merge Surrealist and Dadaist ideology with a social-political
critique of American consumerism with the spontaneity of the Beat and 60s era.
These works are avid responses to an overwhelming sense of increasingly
proliferating media and commodification during the decade. He often explored
his experiences surviving World War II in this material, focusing on monuments
of power and the ever-present war within the artist as individual. This took
the form of invented characters or corporations [i.e. Rayday Films] with
brands, personas or protagonists in a fractured narrative style. Performative
and reminiscent of Surrealism's influence on his formative period in the 1950s,
Keen additionally drew from English Romanticism and his love of language to
devise a novel method of working in a newly evolving medium.
Keen's work can be viewed today as prescient to modes of film and video that
began to take cultural references into an exploration of our own larger social
portraiture. His enthusiastic embrace of alternative modes of discourse in a
pre-internet age is astoundingly fresh today, and the diversity of his practice
calls to mind both painters, film and video artists who succeeded him, from
such figures as Derek Jarman, Richard Hamilton and Linder, to American artists
such as Jack Smith, Ryan Trecartin and Peter Saul.
Jeff Keen very rarely exhibited his drawings and paintings. He first showed
Rayday Film [1968 - 1970] in the First International Underground Film Festival
at the National Film Theatre in 1970. Upcoming 2012 exhibitions include a
retrospective at the Brighton and Hove Museum, the National Portrait Gallery,
London and Tate Modern, London.
In conjunction with the Jeff Keen exhibition, we are pleased to announce a
special initiative for 2012, the first of an ongoing series of collaborations
with galleries who share common philosophies and interests. Anke Kempkis of
BROADWAY1602 will be our first collaborator to inaugurate the series with the
related exhibition, Façade is Cracking: Jeff Keen Drawings from the 1950s. This
exhibition will include film related assemblages and documentation along with
rare works on paper at her gallery, located at 1181 Broadway [3rd Floor] in
conjunction with the solo exhibition, Anna Molska Glasshouses. The exhibitions
open on January 14 and extend to February 28, 2012 with an afternoon reception
from 3 - 6 on Saturday, January 14. For more information, please contact
BROADWAY1602 at www.broadway1602.com or +1.212.481.0362.
To refer to documentation of Jeff Keen and screening times of the film program,
please visit our new website at www.elizabethdee.com.
Film Program Selections:
Flick Flack [1964 - 1965, 3 min]
Cineblatz [1967, 3 min]
White Lite [1968, 3 min]
Marvo Movie [1968, 5 min]
Meatdaze [1967, 5 min]
Rayday Film [1968 - 70 + 1976, 13 min]
White Dust [1972, 33 min]
Mad Love [1978, 42 min]
The gallery would like to extend special thanks to Stella Keen and James Mackay
for making this exhibition possible and to Anke Kempkis for her dedicated
collaboration on this project.
For more information: please contact the gallery at +1.212.924.7545
545 West 20th Street
New York NY 10011
+1 212 924 7545
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