Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing

Serpentine Gallery 18 November 2020 — 14 March 2021 Free

New York-based painter Jennifer Packer’s first institutional solo exhibition in Europe.

This survey exhibition, the artist’s first in a European institution, includes paintings and drawings from the past decade alongside recent work. Jennifer Packer is known for painting intimate portraits of friends and family members, and flower still lifes. Working from a combination of observation, improvisation and memory, Packer’s paintings and large-scale drawings reveal an emotional and physical fragility of life. Characterised by a vibrant approach to colour and a powerful play of scale, she layers, reveals and obscures her subjects through constant shifts between grounds, dissolving figuration into near abstraction.

Packer transforms the art historical traditions of portraiture and still life within a contemporary context and urgency. On occasion, she describes her flower compositions as funerary bouquets and vessels of personal grief; these paintings about loss are often made in response to tragedies of state and institutional violence against Black Americans. While the casual repose of her portraits is the result of her care for the sitters, Packer acknowledges her choice to paint figures as political, stating: ‘Representation and particularly, observation from life, are ways of bearing witness and sharing testimony’.

Artist Biography

Jennifer Packer (b. 1984, Philadelphia) lives and works in New York. She received her BFA from Tyler University School of Art at Temple University, Philadelphia in 2007 and MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2012.

In 2012-13 she was an Artist-in-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem and from 2014-16 she was a Visual Arts fellow at The Fine Arts Work Centre in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Her 2017 solo exhibition Tenderheaded at the Renaissance Society, Chicago toured in 2018 to the Rose Museum at Brandeis University. In 2019 Packer exhibited in the Whitney Biennial and other group exhibitions include 33rd Bienal de São Paulo (2018) and The Studio Museum in Harlem (2019, 2017, 2013 and 2012).

Packer is an Assistant Professor in the painting department at Rhode Island School of Design and she has a forthcoming solo show at MOCA LA.

Exhibition Curated by

Melissa Blanchflower, Curator Exhibitions and Public Art

Natalia Grabowska, Assistant Curator