This work belonged to a dear friend of Jenny’s who died last year. Now it has come back to us I realise that it’s important in understanding how her ideas and techniques developed in the sequence of paper works. Once it has been properly photographed it will join the website in the ‘Squares and Lines’ section of Platonic Shapes.
It’s the work I confused with a Paper Relief in the Square Circle Triangle series – when making labels I mixed up the title of one work and the description of another. As one was a paper relief and the other a cut out there was really no excuse, although both involved forms made up of stripes with local colour, and there are not many of these. ‘Local colour’ is the term Jenny used for a technique she developed to cast colour on a shape depending on the angle of the light and the sight lines of the viewer. She used it from 2006 onwards, when this work was signed and dated.
There’s no title on it: at the back of my mind is a notion that she called it ‘Colour Squares’ but I can very well be mistaken about that. For one thing, you could as easily describe it as Colour Lines. Is it 54 lines arranged in a 3 x 3 grid or grid of 9 squares made up each of six lines – or just one square of squares and lines and the spaces between? Or is it 54 spaces in one square in a pattern of squares? And does it matter to any one but me, who wants to understand why Jenny made so many works using the same shapes and forms and what they were about? The lack of a title may be a clue that it’s all about the colour, which is meticulously graded.
Jenny’s works on paper can categorised by subject or technique. A basic distinction might be based on what is shown (as opposed to what the real subject is). There is an obvious difference between Still Life (pots) and the rest. I have shied away from labelling the ‘not pots’, and from labels generally, because, while only Jenny could say what her real subject was, I do know it isn’t just what you can see. For the website I decided on ‘Platonic Shapes’ – that doesn’t help much.
The other distinction is between the two techniques she developed, which are also not easy to describe. ‘Cut outs’ use light falling on a cut out shape to create movement and depth; ‘Semi Relief’ or ‘Reliefs’ use shapes attached to a background. The difference is between forms which emerge, created by shadow and light, and forms which stand out from or above their backgrounds and cast shadows.
Spectrum (above, left) has 9 vertical lines cut out and suspended. It was made just before Colour Squares and overlaps with the last works in the Square Circle Triangle (SCT) series of Paper Reliefs. In 2008 Jenny made a work where an SCT pattern is fixed onto the background with local colour so the shapes seem to float (above, right) – a kind of hybrid between paper reliefs and squares and lines. In that year she also made at least three works of squares cut out in a 3 x 3 grid, and then in 2009 two works of horizontal lines, also seeming to float. The colours have become more subtle, muted, and the forms simpler.
Colour Squares marks an important transition. It is the only work left with Squares and Lines together – possibly the only one ever. It marks her mastery of the local colour technique. After 2006 the series progresses to simpler forms and quieter colour.