New York

Jennifer Packer, The Eye Is Not Satisfied with Seeing, 2018, oil on canvas, 18 × 38".

Jennifer Packer

Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Jennifer Packer’s paintings come, she has said, from “observation, improvisation, and memory.” That sounds a bit like realism, abstraction, and symbolism all at once—or maybe at different times of day? It’s a tall order, but her recent exhibition “Quality of Life” bore that out. Although what she paints—people, flowers—might sound limited, she can do pretty much anything she wants with her medium of choice (and with charcoal), and she allows herself the freedom to range widely in form and feeling, and sees more in her subjects than others might notice.

A striking example was Jess, 2018, an ostensibly direct composition in which a wild-haired sitter is shown sitting cross-legged, facing the viewer with a frank, ingenuous expression. But the painting’s focal point turned out to be not the face, but rather Jess’s folded hands; the intertwined fingers convey an intensity and complexity of

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