– Spring/Summer 2003

Jeremy Blake: Back to the Future

Cay Sophie Rabinowitz

Jeremy Blake's work to date - hallucinogenic, digital abstractions of suspended and surreal sequences - has consistently developed in terms of content and structure, from the general to the more specific. It is possible to identify the different tropes which structure each work, and to trace an extended relationship to the personal significance of the content.

A considered evaluation of Blake's work over time reveals that each rhetorical device is designed to function as a more specific example of its predecessor, and by extension each work thus becomes more openly communicative of an idea. This distinction is significant in explaining the key connection between form and content in the work as a whole, and the evolution of the artist's thought leading to the radically new, small-format photo-realist paintings, with the working title Autumn Almanac. They might differ in medium from the well-known digital videos and prints, however these new paintings operate according to a poetic logic that has evolved from that of earlier exhibitions.

Blake's earliest works are constructed from collections of fragments, subsequent pieces include direct quotations, the next involve metonymy, and the most recent series employs synecdoche. The movement between one kind of trope and another seems crafted so that each series presents a more specific form of its predecessor. One also recognises a parallel evolution of content in Blake's work, which becomes increasingly direct as the trope becomes more specific. The works are designed to first conceal, and then gradually reveal themselves, as the artist himself develops socially. In other words, a contingent psychological significance is systematically unveiled through this progressive structural evolution.

Published sources that identify quotation to be the specific poetics of reference underlying one

  1. The author in conversation with the artist, February 2003

  2. Ibid.

  3. 'Eye view of a nice sense of proportion', Vogue, August 1970

  4. Sarah Mower, 'Manolo Blahnik Exhibit', style.com, 2 February 2003