David Blandy offers journey to the far East in Passage of the Soul at Exeter Phoenix

By Mark Sheerin | 17 January 2012
Colour still from an animation featuring a man in glasses and a cape
David Blandy, Child of the Atom. Film still (2010)© David Blandy
Exhibition: David Blandy, Passage of the Soul, Exeter Phoenix, Exeter, February 3 - March 17 2012

David Blandy's new show in the West country deals with his fascination with the East. His eponymous Passage of the Soul might be a compulsive journey to Japan.

Recent works have questioned the origins of his passion for manga and kung fu. It is tantalising to think that the time his grandfather spent in a POW camp has given rise to Blandy's Japanophilia, as if by Stockholm Syndrome at two generations removed.

According to family legend, what saved Blandy senior's life was the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is a troubling nugget of information which the artist explored in his part manga film/part travelogue Child of the Atom.

More recently, captivity has cropped up again as Blandy has begun to assimilate the life of William Adams, who became a samurai. The 17th century English explorer was so popular with the locals it became difficult for him to leave. Visitors may or may not find out more from a new manga series called Anjin, based on his life.

Such conflicted subjectivity is explored further in the work Duels and Dualities: Battle of the Soul. Visitors who play this hacked Street Fighter arcade game will be able to choose from a range of Blandy personae and watch the artist fight himself. Now that's conflicted.

  • Open 10am-5pm Monday-Saturday. Admission free.

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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