2. COLOUR as an affirmation of love: Jennifer Packer

From an exhibition of the work of Jennifer Packer, American born 1984,

 

at the Whitney Biennial of (North) American Art in 2019 and at the Whitney Museum in 2021:  The Eye is Not Satisfied with Seeing.

 

Jennifer Packer’s floral still life represent funerary bouquets, a place to put grief. 

 

Her figurative works are about her family and friends.  

 

These tableaux are an expression of love. Even a practice of it.

 

  

Jennifer Packer sketches her people lightly and evocatively onto canvas almost as though, while wanting to show them, she also wants to guard or protect them.  These are people close to her and willing to spend long hours posing.

 

Her people are cocooned in gorgeous colours.

 

The entire canvas often carries these colours to their edges as if to capture an interaction or an emotion before they pass out of memory.

 

Jennifer Packer is a black American.

 

Her work is spoken of as ‘political’.  She paints people, she says; not figures or abstractions. She paints people whom she knows and she wants her people to be seen.

 

‘Seen’ as in seen on the walls of museums.  There, she says, black Americans have been ‘erased’ and it is time, she says, that this is changed. 

 

Seen also, not just for their surfaces, but for some of their complexity in the world in which they live.

 

This she has sought to express in the poses of her sitters: many are vigorous; in others, the figure(s) is seen from an angle unusual for portraiture;

 

in limiting the colours in any one painting to remove the viewer’s temptation to wander away from the figure and emotion of the painting;

 

with paint dripping in an uncontrolled way in some paintings as though the world is unfinished and things are tentative and can change any minute.  Which it is and they are and they can.

 

And so the urgency to fix people and environments and emotions and memories on canvas.

 

 

 

 

Transfiguration (He’s No Saint), 2017, oil on canvas.  Jennifer Packer, American born 1984. 

Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Carolina, 2011, oil on linen. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Next Time, 2012, oil on canvas.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021

 

 

 

 

 

For James (III), 2013, oil on canvas

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021

 

 

after The Flaying of Marsyas

 

 

The Flaying of Marsyas, oil on canvas. Titian, c.1570-76. 

Titian, Italian, 1488/89-1576, Italian.  Archdiocesan Museum Kroměříž, Czech Republic

 

 

 

 

 

Lost in Translation, 2013, oil on canvas.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Jordan, 2014, oil on canvas.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021

 

 

 

Jennifer Packer has been drawing far longer than she has been painting.  Her drawings are not preparatory for her paintings.  They stand alone. 

 

She has said that she appreciates the limitations of drawing.  I take it that these limitations are stricter than those for painting: that is that  figurative drawing is even less forgiving than figurative painting if you are representing real people.

 

 

 

 

Untitled, 2014, charcoal on paper. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Breathing Room, Flowers for Frank Bramblett, 2015, oil on canvas over wood.  

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021

 

Frank Bramblett (1947-2015, American) was one of the artist’s teachers at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia.

A mentor to several generations in a career spanning almost 40 years, Frank Bramblett was a man of such integrity that he shielded his students from exposure to his own work, so eager was he for them to evolve into their own idioms.   Breathing room, as this artist says.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexandra, 2015, oil on canvas. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984. ?Location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say Her Name, oil on canvas, 2017.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021 

 

The artist painted this two years after the death of Sandra Bland.

Sandra Bland was arrested violently in Prarie View, TX on a minor traffic violation. She hanged herself on July 13, 2015 in police custody three days after her arrest.  She was 28.

One of two the two police who stopped and arrested her was subsequently fired for perjury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cumulative Losses, 2012-2017, oil on canvas. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021 

 

 

 

 

 

An Exercise in Tenderness, 2017, oil on canvas. 

Collection of Jennifer Packer when it was exhibited at the Whitney 2019 Biennial, NY

 

 

 

 

 

Tomashi, 2016, oil on canvas.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

April, 2017, oil on canvas.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

Tia, 2017, oil on canvas.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jess, 2018, oil on canvas.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Body Has Memory, 2018, oil on canvas.

Whitney Museum of (North) American Art, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC09644

Untitled, 2019, oil on canvas.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984. Whitney 2019 Biennial, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC09642

Untitled, 2019, oil on canvas. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Whitney Biennial 2019, NY

 

 

 

 

 

A Lesson in Longing, 2019, oil on canvas. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984. Promised gift to the Whitney Museum of Art, NY

 

 

 

 

 

The Mind is Its Own Place, 2020, charcoal and pastel on paper. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

Cade, 2021, oil on canvas over wood.

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

Chey, 2020, oil on canvas. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (Breonna/Breonna!), 2020, oil on canvas. 

Jennifer Packer, American born 1984.  Private collection on loan to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2021. 

 

Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot five times by police, in plain clothes, who entered her apartment on March 13, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky.  Her boyfriend, thinking they were intruders, fired a shot which struck an officer.

The police said they were looking for drugs.  None was found. They did not offer Breonna Taylor medical support which would have been normative.  She died.  A grand jury did not indict the officers who have never subsequently been charged with anything. 

Her family continues to seek justice. 

Elements of this painting are similar to what was shown of Breonna Taylor’s apartment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “2. COLOUR as an affirmation of love: Jennifer Packer

    1. I think so, too, Luisa. I and am glad this is being recognized by the people who ‘count’ in the museum world! Sarah

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