Jennifer Packer’s paintings and drawings combine observation, memory, and improvisation. Featuring over thirty works from the past decade, The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing is the largest survey of Packer’s practice to date. Her intimate renderings of friends, family, and flowers evoke the art historical genres of portraiture and still life, while also highlighting the politics of representation.
Her paintings, most recently seen at the Whitney in the 2019 Biennial, slide between the fidelity of depiction and the freedom of abstraction. This avowal of both clarity and opacity endows her paintings with the same complexity she sees in the Black sitters that populate her art—and the world. “My inclination to paint,” Packer has said, “especially from life, is a completely political one. We belong here. We deserve to be seen and acknowledged in real time. We deserve to be heard and to be imaged with shameless generosity and accuracy.”
Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing was initiated by Serpentine and curated by Melissa Blanchflower, Curator, Exhibitions and Public Art with Natalia Grabowska, Assistant Curator. The presentation at the Whitney is organized by Rujeko Hockley, Arnhold Associate Curator, and Jane Panetta, Nancy and Fred Poses Curator and Director of the Collection, with Ambika Trasi, Curatorial Assistant.
The Body Has Memory
Say Her Name
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (Breonna! Breonna!)
A Lesson in Longing
With its two figures staring directly out from the canvas, this large dreamlike work invites the viewer into their private world. Compositionally, Packer’s predominant use of a pinkish-red palette (a color drawn from the 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting Moses and the Egyptians) is disrupted only by flickers of green paint and white canvas. This formal decision unifies the painting, which seems to be as much about the two distinct figures as the objects that populate the work: multiple plants, a bicycle, and even the faint outline of a cat. Through her washy and drip- like painting technique, which yields incomplete figures that are based on individuals close to the artist, Packer limits the viewer’s access to her subjects, suggesting that they need careful protecting from casual display and exposure.
Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing