Serpentine pavilion

Policed conviviality: Serpentine Pavilion 2023 reviewed

As I sat down at this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, I overheard a curious exchange. ‘You mustn’t create art within art,’ said an invigilator frostily. He was telling off Fred Pilbrow, an architect, who had been taking in the Pavilion’s sociable atmosphere with friends and painting a watercolour of the scene. They proceeded to enter a perverse negotiation as the invigilator struggled with the theoretical parameters of his orders; apparently the watercolour may stain the furniture but dry media like pencils aren’t allowed either; actually, all art-making is not allowed in any of the exhibitions, ‘but photography is OK’. The timber structure has been stained in a shade of brown that

Hugely pleasurable – a vision of summer: Jennifer Packer at the Serpentine Gallery reviewed

We need to talk about Eric. In Jennifer Packer’s portrait of her friend and fellow artist, Eric N. Mack sits on a yellow chair that might have been borrowed from Van Gogh’s bedroom. He’s wearing excellent odd socks, one pink to rhyme with his shoes, the other yellow matching his trousers and chair. But it’s Eric’s face that’s most compelling. Like the ‘Mona Lisa’, Eric’s expression is inscrutable. He might be thinking about what’s for tea, the crisis in pictorial representation or, quite likely, nodding off. This enigmatic quality is intentional. ‘When I painted Eric, I wanted accuracy, but I also wanted to privilege his subjectivity and privacy,’ says Packer.