Mr. Wit Of The Staircase's visionary artist relative, William Blake, had some novel ideas about portraiture that painter and filmmaker Mr. Wit has been mulling over carefully, as Mr. Wit will open a solo show of his own portraits in the Fall of 2007 at the Corcoran Museum of Art in his hometown, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Wit will present his abstract film portraits of designer Ossie Clark, poet David Berman and impresario Malcolm McLaren, in a trilogy of history portraits called Wild Choir: The Filmed Portraits Of Jeremy Blake.
These strongly individual spirits' representations will begin walking the Corcoran's boards on October 27th.
"William Blake's flea is evil, gothic, grotesque, stalking through a starry realm between stage curtains - walking the boards, in fact, as if the artist had ensnared this creature to appear in a spectacle at Drury Lane Theatre.
The ghost's spine is a throbbing, gristly column shooting into his scaly head with its bulging eyes and voracious tongue; his massive muscles are red-toned, as if infused with dried blood, and his loping, crushing walk is that of a colossus come to life. This vastness and mad-eyed bestiality contrasts with the visible form of the spirit's physical embodiment, which can be seen on the floor between his veined legs: a little flea.
Blake's explanation of the spirit he saw accords with the painting's extreme drama of scale, the contrast of the huge invisible monster with its tiny incarnation as insect. The blood-drinking household flea, said Blake, is in fact the physical shape taken by the souls of men who are so bloodthirsty that they are providentially confined to the size and form of insects.
The ghost is gorging on a bowl of blood. This is Blake's ultimate critique of the English portrait. How can empiricism, good manners and the sociability of a Gainsborough possibly acknowledge, as Blake does here, that one aspect of human nature is that of a blood-drinking ghoul?"