I have been going to art galleries and exhibitions all my life, and talking to artists, gallery owners, even curators. But when it came to cataloguing Jenny’s art I wasn’t looking in the right way or seeing what was important. I had to learn to look more deeply at the work.
In listing the oil paintings, I needed to distinguish between a number of still lifes of small pots executed with the same colour palette. Jenny had usually signed and dated the oils she made before 2010, but after the mid 1990s she liked the signature and date to be more or less invisible to the naked eye. Most canvases didn’t have titles. A list of 30 canvases, Still lifes, ‘Untitled’, was not much help in keeping track of what we had.
It helped a bit when I found photograph albums with stick on labels on the backs of the photographs, but the information on them wasn’t always consistent, which was a new dilemma. After a lot of looking, it dawned on me that what Jenny was painting was more than the objects, their shapes, number, or colour. It was the arrangement: curve, square, crescent etc, which was the subject of the work. It was always geometric and an invitation to look at the whole, contemplating apparently random symmetry and beauty as an illustration of natural forms.
I had already understood this about the ‘flowerpot’ sequence, executed after 2013, because I had been able to talk to Jenny as they were painted and the idea unfolded. It seemed obvious to me that none of these works needed titles because they told their own story of the space between a group of pots: I had thought this idea was a new departure, whereas now I saw continuing development.
The story the catalogue could tell was becoming clear to me. And gradually, over time, I felt I could catalogue all the remaining oil paintings.