Portrait of Christopher D. Fisher, Fourth Reich Skinhead,
The inclusion of Williams' painting among 17th-century Dutch portraits sets up a provocative discourse on the nature of representation, racism, and historical construction.
The subject of Williams' work is a perpetrator of hate crimes against African Americans. In style, as well as content, the painting seems far removed from the realistic Dutch images that project a good-natured respectability.
The connection Williams makes is based on a historical reality that is not revealed in the Dutch paintings. Although the slave trade was a significant contributor to Dutch wealth, it is not apparent in their images.
Williams' painting, however, reverses the process of 17th-century Dutch representation. His image unmasks the subject to probe the character of someone who commits unconscionable acts.
Through his intervention, Williams, an African American, asserts his presence in the western or "white" tradition of art. He also points out that by seeking out what is omitted from constuctions of history and identity alternative interpretations are suggested.
To the next artist...