Summer 2011

Room with a collective view

Close Eyes to Exit

Red Gallery, London, 1-18 April 2011

To launch the fifth issue of their eponymous publication, the Le Gun collective (see ‘Garage band’, Eye 64) held an exhibition, ‘Close Eyes to Exit’, at London’s Red Gallery (1-18 April 2011) featuring the first British appearance of their installation The Unknown Room – previously seen in Berlin.

This ‘room’ is at first unprepossessing, a crude frame of wooden struts and unpainted boards evoking an unfinished stage set. Stepping through a small hatch, however, finds you in a timeless, silent, monochrome world. A drawing of a drawing room where every surface and object has been hand-painted. The grain of the floorboards, the carpet, the wallpaper, chairs and tables, a wind-up gramophone, a fallen 78rpm disc on the floor, all hand-rendered in black ink on stark white. You stand in an illustrated world, as if transported into one of the pictures clustering the walls – a feeling reinforced by the prominently framed illustration of the room that you stand in, on its wall a painting of the room receding in an infinite return.

Since they formed seven years ago the various members of Le Gun have steadily constructed through their illustration and installations a collective alternate reality in which to indulge and explore their eclectic fantasies, fictions and mythologies. In Le Gun #5 (available from and The Unknown Room these converge and conspire.

The objects and paintings in the room are ‘physical’ manifestations of the narrative running through Le Gun #5. This purportedly relates the exploits of the late George Melly, detailed, it claims, in a diary found ‘in a tiny leather briefcase in a Hackney shoe shop’, and follows the jazz singer and critic, a self-proclamed Surrealist, through a fragmented Rabelaisian dreamtime of bars, monkey brains and opium tea.

Facts and fictions, the real and the imagined, objects and drawings – in The Unknown Room, all are merged in an inverted trompe l’oeil where every kind of reality is playfully contradicted.

First published in Eye no. 80 vol. 20 2011

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