Shoot the Wrx: Filmmaker and Artist Jeff Keen at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

By Ben Miller | 29 October 2012
An image of a multicoloured four-panel cartoon illustration of various comic characters
Jeff Keen, The Cartoon Theatre of Dr Gaz (1979)© Jeff Keen
Exhibition Preview: Shoot the Wrx: Filmmaker and Artist Jeff Keen, Brighton Museum and art Gallery, Brighton, October 27 2012 – February 25 2013

Jeff Keen was one of a kind. Films, paintings, drawings, assemblages and Beat poetry all feature in a career which began during the 1960s, when Keen established himself as one of the most singular figures of the British post-war avant-garde.

His work rate and energy during this period was such that it almost matched the pace of his rapid animations which continue to compel from a varied back catalogue.

A black and white photo of a male artist standing up against a wall
Jeff Keen (circa 1960)© Jeff Keen
But writing in his retrospective for the British Film Institute in 2009, Will Fowler probably summed those films up by describing them as “so incredibly quick-fire, vibrant and distinctive that it’s hard to find a contemporary with whom to compare him.”

Keen is particularly loved in Brighton, whose people and landscapes he determinedly bonded with in preference to the London scene.

In the years preceding his death, when Keen suffered from ill health, plans were formed to preserve and honour his vast and brilliant body of work.

His week-long contribution to Tate’s The Tank season last month, Gazapocalypse – Return to the Golden Age, was one of the first testimonies to his idiosyncratic genius since his death in June.

The major installation featured a huge dioramic screen of popping up projections, cut-up soundtracks and a level of experimentation and live action described by the venue itself as “unruly”.

In Brighton, this show stands both as a lengthier tribute and a continued showcase of the capacity his fearless adventures have to excite new artists.

Expert talks on underground cinema, family 16mm film workshops and digital paper-cut out sessions are all planned to accompany the celebration of a real one-off.

  • Open 10am-5pm (closed Monday except Bank Holidays, December 24-26 and January 1). Admission free. Follow the museum on Twitter @BrightonMuseums.

More pictures:

An image of a colourful illustration of a multi-limbed pink figure with blue water features
LAFF (1966). Oil paint© Jeff Keen
A black and white photo of a film figure made to look like a kind of strange superhero
Jeff Keen as 'Blatzom' (1986)© Jeff Keen
A photo of a cartoon-style film illustration collage with various heroic figures involved
Amazing Rayday (circa 1960). Hand-coloured paper collage with watercolor and gouache© Jeff Keen
A black and white collage of an illustration for an 8mm film of bikes and female figures
Stills from Keen's first two films, Like, The Time is Now (1961) and Wall (1960)© Jeff Keen
A photo of a male artist in profile standing next to a wall with black ink marks on it
Keen working on large scale drawing (circa 1990)© Jeff Keen
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