John Blake, Untitled, 1980. Invitation card.
John Blake, Untitled, 1980. Invitation card.
John Blake, Untitled, 1980. Invitation card.

John Blake, Untitled, 1980. Invitation card.


John Blake

Untitled (Their Eyes)

18 – 23 November 1980

Martello Street

The installation of a work by John Blake will be on view at Matt's Gallery from Tuesday, November 18th, until Sunday November 23rd. 1980.

John Blake is an American artist who has lived and worked in London since 1967. During the past year his work has been seen at the Institute of Contemporary Arts:other exhibitions in this country have included those at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1972) and the Museum of Modern Art Oxford (73).

His background is in painting and sculpture and although his constructions, installations and films may be disassociated from those practices in the conventional view, he insists that his work has remained one and the same thing throughout its development irrespective of the means he employs.

Typically, photographs can be combined with a brief text, single words or simple short phrases. These in turn can be juxtaposed with other, non-photographic elements, including materials which are pre-manufactured or 'found'. Any or all of these elements may appear in a single work - the way they are structured counts for as much as the ingredients used.

This can be easily seen in past works. For example: Ten photographs of nocturnal scenes mounted in a corner become large black mirrors, thus creating the illusion of two receding, intersecting planes. The dark intangible space draws you in as it simultaneously expels, one repeated phrase- Say No, Say No, Say No- becoming increasingly visible and insistent as you enter into the surface of the illusion. Another construction derives from aligning a large black curtain and the photograph of a monumental column. The curtain conceals the source of a hidden voice, hypnotically repeating the word 'Remember'. Here word becomes thing, and object image- all bound up in a single matrix.

For this reason, a list of materials and descriptive breakdown are of little service. Generalisations which avoid specifics do not help either; although these are basically abstract works, each presents particular conditions for those who have an interest in penetrating their order of things.

Perhaps the simplest corollary is provided by poetry, where syntactical organisation, the play between diverse image-groups, the potential of rhythmic patterns, (to say nothing of simile, metaphoric equivalents and correspondences), all conspire to locate a new integration of word, image and idea. The point should not be laboured because these are by no means literary works, but this perspective does accord with the artist's increased interest in this form of expression.

It is an interest which can be detected in his installation at Matt's Gallery. The work is essentially a litany: part is provided by the repeated use of one phrase, 'Their Eyes', its counterpart by an assembly of flashing beacons, images and objects combined. These parts are woven one through the other; one incantation, its whole pattern pervading the gallery which itself becomes an integrated feature of the work.

These are the ingredients, the result can be witnessed at Matt's Gallery. The gallery is located in Hackney, East London. Exhibitions are held every two months, the policy being to foster the development of new experimental work which is best served, and becomes more effective, if it is given exposure.