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

Richard Tuttle

Fusing sculpture, painting and poetry together with textiles. Colours mutate, canvas becoming a geometric abstraction. Sprockets, wires and stitching are part of his lyrical visual syntax. He choreographs the audience – we might stub our toe on an object nestling against the wall or be arrested by a construction’s ascent into space.

New Babylon – Constant Nieuwenhuys

The model designs of playful cities and the creative human being at the centre. Man would be liberated from manual labour and dedicate himself to the development of creative ideas. Interweaving and intersecting each element, joining and conversing. A series of linked transformable structures, perched above ground. A post-revolutionary world.

Dan Shipsides

Reflecting a life of climbing, relationship to space and participatory engagement. Seek to create open narrative through that experience. Often using the contribution of others in multiple mediums. It draws from, responds to, documents or reflects the experience of seeing, being and doing whilst linking to social, political, environmental or historical contexts. Large-scale, noticeable from afar, making a statement.

Tadashi Kawamata

Sculptural installations made from mass-produced materials like wooden pallets, balsa wood, corrugate tine, and cardboard. Suggests a links between socio-economic status and architectural styles. Influenced by his childhood interest in urban spaces, often living near his site-specific installations.

Carl Gent

Artist, musician and writer, combining sculpture with durational performance. The messages that he portrays are those that need re-enacting for them to stand a chance against dominant histories. Ruins recyclable materials by mixing them with toxic items. Encourages a more ecological response to the material world within anyone who experiences the things they might make or write.

Yona Friedman

Concept and mobile architecture was the basis of Friedman’s work. The infrastructures are neither determined nor determining giving a mobility to both inhabitants and buildings. Spatial city touches the ground over a minimum area, is capable of being dismantled and moved, and can be alterable as required by the individual occupant. Freedom in space. Allowing nature to grow, much like the Walter Segal self build technique.

Building with Bamboo

Bamboo and natural materials are often used in developing countries to alleviate housing, infrastructure problems and lowering pollution. Only certain species suitable for building with. Growing in abundance, controlling water cycles, reducing erosion. Steel substitute, holding weight and bending to conform to structures with loading slats under torsion and bending. Effective experimental investigation of bamboo and concrete, questioning marital agreement with other materials. Tied and twisted together to create intricate and solid structures.

Sterling Ruby

In an oeuvre spanning sculpture, ceramics, painting, drawing, collage, video, and garments, Ruby continually returns to themes of societal and art historical friction, generating feelings of anxiety and agitation by contrasting clean lines and recognizable objects with coarse and uncanny forms.

Gagosian, 2019

Through the use of contrasting mediums, techniques, and textures, Ruby explores the tensions between fluidity and stasis, Expression and Minimalism as well as, the abject and the pristine. Acts of defacement can produce a painterly sublime, as seen in his textured works. The contrast of colour is empowered further by the materials used within the sculptural and painting works. A dribble or scrape across the clear surface could completely alter the serenity and stillness of the work.

Alicja Kwade

Kwade uses large scale sculpture to reflect on time, perception, and scientific inquiry. Powder-coated steel and polished stones create a questionable universe filled with angles, weightlessness and questions. The large scale sculptures seem to have no way of balancing, yet they hold still on rooftops and in galleries, and battle the elements. Within the steel sculptures, there is the possibility of movement through the fanned out spacing, creating a new scientific element.

Part of these works is a careful composition, for the stone is large enough that it is not lost in the steel, and the steel is strong enough to hold the large balls of stone. The other part of the works is the balance between the the materials, ensuring that they are stable in their position, as well as in their individual element.

Time seems to stop still when viewing these artworks, for they themselves are a moment of it. Perception of the world, the universe and science changes for you appear to view another side of it. Science it all at the heart of it.