JEFF KEEN

JEFF KEEN

A poet, avant-garde artist and pioneering filmmaker, Keen combined diverse media and genres to forge his singular, subversive and highly influential oeuvre. An important contributor to the countercultural and “happenings” scenes in Britain and New York, Keen’s influences included Surrealism, Picasso, Dubuffet and the spirit of Andy Warhol. By turns beautiful and poetic, raw and apocalyptic, Keen’s films used experimental techniques to fuse live action and animation – a combination of collage, drawings, found footage, hand-altered film stock and layered projections. “We are all collage artists today, switching from one channel to another, re-editing as we go.” -Jeff Keen Keen’s cinematic innovations and influences also found their way into Keen’s boundary pushing drawings, and frequently neglected work in other media. Keen’s books of watercolor drawings, which served as scenography for the artist’s films, are themselves significant expressions of his complex and idiosyncratic creative philosophy. As noted by film and video artist Steve Hawley in 1986, “Keen’s notebooks occupy an ambiguous status in relation to his films. They are not preparatory sketches or storyboards but rather like Surrealist ‘films on paper.’” Keen himself once stated that the sets “though complete in themselves...work playful variations around the themes and images of the film.” Sometimes together in sequence, other times standing alone, their form powerfully suggests the ‘comic strip of life’ that Keen sought to conjure in all his work. Their resonant imagery evokes the same manic universe of creation and violent destruction through which Keen described the frenetic world of post-war Western society.

JEFF KEEN

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