BRYAN OHNO GALLERY

ALLAN PACKER

CV

About the Artwork:

Through several distinct series, his artwork spirals back upon itself, restating and questioning structural devices and themes that borrow from nineteenth-century physics, twentieth-century popular culture and twenty first-century space exploration, as well as from systems applied in mathematics and taxonomies.

Employing production techniques from theatre and industry, Packer's sculptures are fabricated from an assembly of multiple –purposefully dissimilar — components. Using strategic optical illusion, planned maneuvering of materials and a subterfuge of textures, he endeavor to agitate the psychological dimensions of a viewer’s understandings, attempting to change the general assumptions commonly (and unquestioningly) assigned as obvious referents, characteristics, symbols and spirits of various images and assorted matter. In short, Packer provides an opportunity for unsettling knowledge — and, thereby, changing the world each one of us presumes to know.

LANL 33, 2015,  48 x 60 inches, Oil on canvas with hand sculpted frame, US$23,000  

LANL - Los Alamos National Labs, Los Alamos, New Mexico. The 33 remains a mystery as does some of the history and current undertaking of the labs. The title comes from a sign on the chain link fence outside the large radio dish on the way into Bandolier National Monument to study the petroglyphs of the Ancestral Pueblo culture. The paranormal attributes of the Bandolier site next to the Los Alamos dish seemed as though we are communicating to something outer-worldly. The moon acts as the dish and is a metaphor for a cosmic entity.  The bird monument symbolizes the metamorphosis of a bird into stone.

Transmission, 2015, 48 x 60 inches, Oil on canvas with hand sculpted frame, US$23,000

Hiking down in the Rio Grande valley I came across several petroglyphs depicting a deer hunt. Typical in my work I spend time at a site to feel and hear the surroundings all the while recording these moments in drawing.  Days later I was climbing the remote Kachina peak near Taos and came upon an array of radio antennae at the top of the mountain. The two sites were conveying a message - one visual depicting an historical event and the other invisible yet quite apparent in the highly contrasting geography. I immediately made a connection between the two sites due to the visual similarity of antennae. Inverting the deer silloueted by the moon seemed to enhance the radiation of the silent message between the two objects. The deer is about to be or has been skewered by the antennae prompting the notion of sacrifice.  


Toroidial Cortex of Sheep, 2015, 48 x 60 inches, Oil on canvas with hand sculpted frame $23,000

The Festival of San Geronimo at the Taos Pueblo features a pole climb where the clowns attempt to climb a 50ft wooden pole where the bounty (sheep, gords, fruit) is suspended by a rope at the top. When the climb is achieved the clown releases the bounty to the ground. Referencing the abstract minimalist painters I energize the graphic illusion of the cavity of a toroidal. Within this illusion all the objects are flowing as though they were the cortex of a brain during a dream sequence.  The Western children's game Snakes and Ladders, comes from the Indian game for adults called Gyan Chaupar, the “Game of Knowledge.” The ladders start from squares with virtues, such as devotion, and move the player up the board. Snakes are found on squares of vices, such as jealousy, and take the player back down the board. In this case the rope becomes the snake.


Fluxus Station, 2015, 48 x 60 inches, Oil on canvas  with hand sculpted frame, US$23,000

Growing up during the vestiges of the cold war and watching Hollywood espionage films like “Ice Station Zebra” - Fluxus station thrusts the telescope from the slit of the bunker searching for the moment that never comes. The bunker in the shape of a coyote pays homage to Fluxus member Joseph Beuys and his piece featuring a coyote “I Like America and America Likes Me”.

Cosmic Wheels (After Donovan), 2015, 48 x 60 inches, Oil on canvas with hand sculpted frame, US$23,000

From Sputnik to the mars rover we have watched the advancement of space travel and the quest of mankind searching the cosmos for answers that ultimately ask where we come from. Space matter and galactic debris represent the big bang theory and the quest to understand our beginnings. The coyote represents the transformation of species (matter). The eagle/egg is the causality dilemma.  The cosmic wheel (hexagon) is the mathematical language of man - the science of life. A fragmented sprue 01 is both a personal reference to my early work and a binary number for which we relay messages.


LES CALANQUES, 2015, 68”W x 40”H, Oil on canvas with hand sculpted frame, US$23,000


Hitchhiking from Paris to Arles I was picked up by the artist Daniel Buren. Allowing myself at a young age to wander I ended up in Marseille. Daniel said I must see the Calanques - which at the time I had no idea what he meant. For many years Les Calanques was a mysterious place. Recently upon completion of the installation “the Mesmerizer” at the Grotte mas d’Azil I made a quest to find Les Calanques. I spent several days hiking and drawing along the bluffs of the Calanques on the Mediterranean outside of Cassis. “The Mesmerizer”, the cave and Buren’s stripes were fresh on my mind. Simultaneously my fathers impending death had me thinking about my Welsh ancestry. I was drawing Welsh dragons. During the course of this painting my father did pass away. There have been prescient moments in the course of my career and this is one of them.

WOOD IN THE WOOD (PAPILLON), 60”W x 48”H, Oil on canvas with hand sculpted frame, US$23,000


Referencing Fluxus artist Joseph Kosuth, Wood in the Wood echoes Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs. One and Three Chairs demonstrates how an artwork can embody an idea that remains constant despite changes to its elements. In the case of Wood in the Wood there is the tree, the carving and the milled lumber.

The underlying reference is a nod to conceptual thinking. The carved eagle, albeit static seems to be on the verge of life while the surrounding wood has been milled, torn and discarded while the source (mother) looks on.

Aritst Biography:


Born 1956, Windsor Ontario, Canada

In 1980, Allan Packer, a 22-year old bohemian artist painting in Toronto, journeyed north to the high arctic community of Cape Dorset with Terry Ryan to develop an operational print etching shop for the vibrant and internationally recognized Dorset Fine Arts. There he met Inuit artists Kananginak, Pitseolak and Pudlo Pudlat.  He would not fully realize the impact of these relationships until years later during his residency at the Banff Centre in Canada where he addressed the political and cultural impact of this community of Inuit artists in a sculpture entitled Corvus Corax, 2005 (The Banff Centre Canada).

After his voyage to the Arctic, Packer traveled to Paris to study with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17. Hayter, a scientist and artist, incited Packer’s experimentation with mathematics – an influence that is reflected in Packer’s earlier drawings and most recently in his dodecahedron sculpture Time Machine, 2006 (Kohler Factories, Wisconsin).

In 1983, Packer returned to the states to complete one year of an MFA degree at the University of Tennessee and three years later he moved to New York City, where he abandoned oil and canvas in favor of books.  Books became his primary medium and he created his first sculpture – a portrait of the poet Barbara Barg, entitled The Poet, in 1988 (private collection) and another, Forming and Thinking, 1992 (Denver Art Museum).  With the encouragement of John Duff and Donald Bachelor, Packer devoted himself completely to sculpture.

After 14 years in New York, Packer moved to the West Coast, settling in Seattle, where he has gained recognition for his wry, politically-charged, cast plastic sculptures.  These large sculptures and installations have received awards including two major Canada Council grants, Artist Trust Fellowship and GAP grants, and Washington State Arts Commission Grant.