Close Up

1 - 8 April 2023: GAZWRX: The Films of Jeff Keen


Jeff Keen's unique and imaginative filmmaking has outlived the various scenes in which it thrived – the Sixties counterculture, punk and beyond. Making work of immediate power and raw intensity on a range of film stocks, this World War II veteran, self-taught artist and pioneer of radical British independent filmmaking continues to defy categorisation. The twelve short films in this programme, made between 1960 and 1993, reveal the astonishingly tireless talent of a filmmaker not afraid to grapple with sex and war, or to experiment with visceral soundtracks and brutal animation techniques.  

Jeff Keen, 1967, 3 min  

Sculpted radio static washes over a rush of animated superheroes, advertisements and even the House of Lords. Over twenty discrete animations in less than three minutes.  

White Lite
Jeff Keen, 1968, 3 min  

“Meet Anti-Matter Man and the Bridge of the Atom” in this surreal and psychedelic B movie homage.  

Marvo Movie
Jeff Keen, 1967, 5 min  

The Cat Woman, Mickey Mouse, melting toys, the local graveyard and Brighton beach all get together in this anarchic and very British bit of fun. “It went right over my head and seemed a little threatening, but I’m all for it.” – Ken Russell  

Like the Time Is Now
Jeff Keen, 1960, 5 min  

America comes to Brighton as three beatniks hang out, listen to records and smoke before strange hats appear out of nowhere and a cartoon bubble suggests they go to the cinema.  

Jeff Keen, 1961, 5 min  

Motorbikes and leather jackets – signs of the rebel – collide with a rush of cut-out animation similar to but pre-dating the work of Python animator, Terry Gilliam.  

Rayday Film
Jeff Keen, 1969, 13 min  

Motler the Word Killer and other Keen cohorts escape from crazed costumed antics in his flat and spread chaos to the local tip – where fires and wedding dresses both tread the board – and then spray their dadaesque slogans over Brighton beach and local adverts.  

Victory Thru Film Power
Jeff Keen, 1980, 3 min  

This tightly edited animation presents the news at over a hundred miles an hour and subverts it with painting and other interference.  

Jeff Keen, 1986, 12 min  

Jeff Keen dons paper masks and his knitted Artwar jacket having already avoided falling bombs and paced a dusty, grey, moonlike landscape. Blaztom offers an exquisitely crafted noise soundtrack to match its explosive opening.  

Plazmatic Blatz
Jeff Keen, 1990, 9 min  

Stealth bombers hover like vultures over crashing waves and a ruined land. Using found footage and several thick layers of video, Keen presents a very visceral version of Armageddon.  

Jeff Keen, 1993, 6 min  

Constructed from footage of the first Iraq war and Jeff Keen painting at the local tip, this very personal work melds the artist’s two main themes in a video that’s both compelling and very contemporary.