Leslie Manasseh visits Unseen by My Open Eyes at Brixton’s Block336 gallery
Unseen By My Open Eyes is the first solo exhibition in the UK of Irish artist Kevin Gaffrey’s work. It consists of four films running simultaneously.
Each one takes place in a different country – South Korea, Taiwan, Iran and Ireland – and the characters speak in native languages with subtitles. The locations and the issues specific to them serve as a context to consider more universal concerns.
Viewers travel at the pace and rhythm chosen by the artist along a road made up of a series of gentle but arresting and occasionally shocking images.
The result is four intimate portraits of anxiety and dislocation and slowly revealed stories which explore issues of identity and the struggle to find a meaningful place in the world.
Touches of humour, surrealism and a romanticised sense of loss and longing weave their way through the films, which challenge the viewer to find balance and harmony between the pictures and the words.
This is not an easy or straightforward exhibition. It requires the viewer to surrender to the artist’s vision and purpose, and work to try to unravel some of the mysteries.
But I was left with many thought-provoking and memorable images and a sense that I had been taken to some other, rather enchanting if somewhat disturbing and uncertain worlds.
The exhibition runs until 22 December in Block336 Gallery, 336 Brixton Road SW9 7AA. Opening hours Thursday – Saturday 12 – 6pm.