The Story Behind Megadoku

As part of Project 365 in May, I completed a 50 x 50 cm canvas of a 10 x 10 large sudoku on an 8 x 8 grid. Using pastel colours in acrylic paint, the calm and soft hues change throughout the day depending on the light that streams through my studio window. It was the first canvas that I have completed in a long time, and although it took several days, I feel proud of this achievement.

A sudoku can be defined as “a puzzle in which players insert the numbers one to nine into a grid consisting of nine squares subdivided into a further nine smaller squares in such a way that every number appears one in each horizonal line, vertical line, and square.”

A megadoku is generally considered a sudoku larger than this nine by nine grid. As a child, and even now as an adult, I deeply enjoy sitting down with a puzzle book and completing sudoku after sudoku after sudoku. The patterns that are within these have also intrigued me, seeing them as perhaps colours, or indeed larger artworks.

It was this inspiration of the patterns and the soothing nature of painting that inspired me to crack out a canvas. I worked through each colour, ensuring I kept to the pattern of the 10 x 10 megadoku. I was originally going to curve the pattern around the sides of the canvas as the canvas is around an inch thick. As I continued to paint the canvas, I decided to keep these sides white and clean, with the final design being the central 8 x 8 grid of the 10 x 10 megadoku.

I enjoyed the painting process of this, following the straight lines and cutting into the corners of each square. A part of me wishes to create a larger version of this, using both a bigger pattern and larger square canvas. In the meantime, I enjoy the view of this painting every day as it hangs above my desk.

Guest Post: Exhibition Review – Jennifer Packer

JENNIFER PACKER – THE EYE IS NOT SATISFIED WITH SEEING


Exhibition review by Jennifer Starnes

New-York based artist Jennifer Packer exhibits her first solo show in a European institution with ‘THE EYE IS NOT SATISFIED WITH SEEING’ at Serpentine Galleries in London (19 May – 22August 2021). 34 works in total are presented, a mixture of miniature and large-scale drawings and paintings, rooted in representation and fuelled by the political and sociological introspection that underpins life. The title of the show references a biblical passage from Ecclesiastes which alludes to the human need for desire, which can never truly be sated. This is reminiscent of the confrontation that Jennifer Packer encourages through forces of attraction vs. resistance within her work.

Upon entering the exhibition, I was drawn to TRANSFIGURATION (HE’S NO SAINT), a painting I had previously seen online and the initial inspiration behind my visit. Seeing the painting in person was a completely different experience, the fiery red tones, blood orange and stark yellow burned bright. The figurative stance and gaze, both vulnerable and at peace, there is a palpable energy when standing face to face with this painting.  A clear ambiguity plagues the painting, much like the sharp line that dissects the canvas in two. The figure could be seen as sinking into the murky blackened space or emerging from it.

Jennifer Packer
Transfiguration (He’s No Saint), 2017
Oil on Canvas
182.8 x 91.4 cm, 72 x 36 inches
Collection of Igor DaCosta and James Rondeau. Photo: Jason Wyche
https://www.galleriesnow.net/shows/jennifer-packer-2/

Several drawings also adorn the gallery walls, carrying a different sensibility but equal weight as the paintings presented alongside them. There is a delicacy to the charcoal lines which make them quite distinct in comparison. THE MIND IS ITS OWN PLACE sees two figures sharing the space, one in motion and the other still, eyes closed. Bluish pastel hues merge with a lone purple hand. Smoky grey lines melt into one another, both layering and erasing to reveal subtleties and create a sense of intimacy.

Jennifer Packer comments “I feel resistance to the use of the word “bodies” to describe the figures in my work. There’s an important difference between having a body and being a body. Bodies can be almost anything and are often subject to mindless objectification or a loss of humanity”.

Exhibition view: Jennifer Packer, The Eye is Not Satisfied with Seeing, Serpentine Galleries, London (19 May – 22 August 2021). Courtesy Galleries. Photo: George Darrell.
https://galleriesnow.net/shows/jennifer-packer-2/

Jennifer presents a dichotomy between portraiture and flower compositions, drawing on a fascinating parallel for how humanness can be represented. SAY HER NAME is perhaps Packer’s most widely recognised painting, made in response to the death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Black American woman who was found hanging in a police cell following her arrest 3 days prior for a minor traffic violation. The suspicious circumstances surrounding Sandra’s death sparked the #sandrabland social justice movement and lead to public outcry regarding racially motivated police violence. Packer comments “when I googled Sandra, I couldn’t find any images of her memorial…so, in a way, this painting became an expression of an inability to deal with that loss”. When I look at this painting, I see contained chaos, it has a harrowing depth to it, owed to the rich colour palette and hazy painterly expressions which characterise Jennifer Packer’s style. The energetic nature of these works is something that can’t be escaped and the visceral response they conjure can’t be ignored.

Jennifer Packer
Say Her Name, 2017
Oil on canvas
101.6 x 121.9 cm, 40 x 48 inches
Private Collection. Courtesy: The Artist, Corvi-Mora, London and Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York. Photo: Matt Grubb.
https://www.galleriesnow.net/shows/jennifer-packer-2/

Jennifer’s background in art and psychology informs her mixed media practise with specialism in realism and portraiture. Her works are often inspired by her interest in biology and the body alongside additional influences stemming from her passion for science fiction and horror.
Instagram: @jennstarrart
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jennstarrart
Email: jennstarrart@gmail.com
Website: Coming soon

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