Joe Packer is a painter of contemporary Arcadian landscapes and colourful abstracted scenes distinguished by a lush vibrancy. It comes as no surprise then that the subject matter is informed in part by the artist’s historic connection to nature, growing up “on the edge of a wood.” Indeed, even in the exuberantly colourful pieces that verge between abstraction, patterning and observation, there is a deeply personal if not intimate way of looking at place and nature in Packer’s work, an approach that the artist describes as not solely the capturing of a physical place, but as well an expression of a 'something' experienced, perhaps the intangible romantic communion with the landscape and the beauty of nature. As the artist describes it “the places that appear or are suggested are not of specific places remembered from childhood but are somehow connected, although the image has been arrived at as much through the intuitive painting process as any attempt to overtly depict a place from memory.”
Packer notes that his process begins with thin layers of acrylic that allow the structure of the picture to be scaffolded, and then turns to oil paint “for its greater versatility, richer colour, and other seductive qualities”. The painter uses both artist brushes and household decorators’ brushes, allowing a more unexpected range of marks. This fracturing and folding of the picture plane create a sort of kineticism within the picture surface. In some scenes, there is a resemblance to the dark yet energetic work of Divisionist and Futurist painters, abstracted scenes full of light and fractured yet sculptural planes.
Packer has an instinctive approach to the depiction of the natural world that reminds one of the highly personalised yet colourful immediacy of the Fauvists and as well the Canadian landscape painters the Group of Seven, in the schematic arrangement of landscapes in bold hues, cropped and arranged in a highly stylized manner. This method translates into a body of contemporary work that is at once deeply expressive, an evocation of memory and a joyful sublimity.
Rosa JH Berland