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Art & Life with Roni Packer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roni Packer.

Roni, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born and raised in Tel Aviv. When I was 21 I traveled to India and stayed there for a year. When I got back I decided to go to art school. My main focus back then was photography and sculptor, more or less everything except painting, despite the fact that painting was my real secret passion. I struggled with painting classes in which the instructors wanted us to illustrate a concept. That had nothing to do with the things that I wanted to do with paint, which was mostly to take a bath in it. I guess that I was also terrified by the thought that I won’t be good at it; that I’ll be a bad painter. When I finished my BFA I spent more time in India and when I got back I decided to dive into painting.

In 2014 I moved to the US. After a year I started my MFA at the excellent art department of the University of Illinois at Chicago (where today I teach painting as an adjunct professor). I think that being far away from my homeland, surrounded by the wonderful art community of Chicago, has changed my work a lot. In 2017-2018 I had the privilege to be a BOLT resident at the Chicago Artists Coalition in one of their great programs for artists. After these three busy years, I’m now looking forward to having some quiet time in my new studio at Mana Contemporary Chicago and working on some new projects.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I make paintings and objects that find their way into large-scale installations. These always involve paint and are (in a certain way) about color. Touching and working with paint without taking its materiality for granted, forcing it to act as I want it to and then realize that it won’t, is what drives my practice.

I use the appearance of paint – color – to trace the relations between painting and space, in a search for a material presence that can generate a vague memory. Color is both my servant and my master. In the past two years, I have been using mainly yellow. Maybe it’s just because I miss the middle eastern sun and light, but I also feel that yellow has a slippery authority that cannot be belted by a line or a mark; its warm-toxic pulses throw you into an in-between zone. A year ago I promised my brother that I’ll desist from the yellow period and go back to my old colorful palette, but after two years I feel that I’m still ‘stuck’ in a yellow threshold and that I have more to investigate there. Yellow is not my favorite color, but the only color that I truly hate is its complementary one – purple.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
Personally, in my practice, I define success through failure. My work process usually starts and ends with a major misstep. For me, the success will be to accept that and to stay present in between these two moments.

I still wonder about what makes one artist more successful than another. I guess that today, if we measure success by publicity and fame, an artist needs to have certain characters that might not go hand in hand with a studio practice.

Cliché as it might sound, perhaps the secret is to find your own way to navigate between the outside world and the inside voices.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
These days you can see my work at 6018 North as part of the Living Architecture exhibition. This show responds to the current political climate and highlights how Chicago was built with immigrant labor. Co-curated by Teresa Silva and Tricia Van Eck with Nathan Smith, the show includes over 50 Chicago artists and it will be up until December 23, 2018, at the house on 6018 North Kenmore, a Chicago landmark that today houses the 6018 North gallery. Another yellow installation of mine will be at the Hyde Park Art Center as part of Ground Floor, a biennial of new art from Chicago. September 9 – November 11, 2018.

Besides that, you can receive updates and contact me through my website, or come and visit in my studio.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Robert Chase Heishman, Evan Jenkins

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