Jennifer Packer Shows Us the Responsibility of Seeing

Jennifer Packer “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (Breonna! Breonna!)” (2020)

What is so striking about the painting of Jennifer Packer in her Whitney Museum exhibition is the way she handles the relationship between the ethereal and the physical and how she transitions between the two realms. In a previous interview the artist has said, “I don’t usually use the word ‘intuitive,’ but I feel like I flow between moments of observation and imagination.” In the work of The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing I can see her feeling her way through the premonitions and inklings that occur to her in the moment of making, and recognize that she’s made deliberate choices in response and I endorse almost every single one.

In the painting “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (Breonna! Breonna!)” (2020) the corporeal world in certain moments becomes ephemeral, gauzy. A calf muscle goes alabaster white. A ceiling fan is caught mid-cycle, the whoosh of one of its arms arrested but leaving a chem trail, the other arm ghostly white again against a pink backdrop. This fan is primarily made recognizable by the bright white bulb at its center with the blades seeming like they have been set in motion and thereafter can only be glimpsed in short bursts of apprehension.

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