I remember that as I was writing a poem on ‘Snow’ when I was eight, I said aloud, ‘I wish I could have the ability to write down the feelings I have now when I am little, because when I grow up, I will know how to write, but I will have forgotten what being little feels like.’ Sylvia Plath
Snow provokes responses that reach back to childhood. Andy Goldsworthy
Both Sylvia Plath and Andy Goldsworthy allude to snow’s childhood allure. Its beguiling ability to conceal or disguise what we know to be there depends on the suspension of disbelief more common to youthful innocence. The landscape with all its evidence of toil and its blemishes are secreted away under a soft, silent veil.
In Jenny Topfer’s painting we see her time and again summon a blizzard of white pigment across a field of wilful, even heated gesture. Cooled by this hushed layer we nevertheless see evidence of real vigour in her gesture and in the volume of the material as it emerges at the unpredictable fringe.
Look more closely at Topfer’s surface and you can find traces of text or at least the remains of calligraphic arcs that allude to writing. Colour too, mostly earth pigments and cool blues are apparent at the edges, evidence of yet another element sublimated by this retreating permafrost.
Like Plath, Topfer is seduced by poetry and its willingness to substitute description for allegory. She, like Plath knows how to write, is equally determined not to forget what it is like to feel. This goes to the heart of Topfer’s paintings – a process that begins with a more knowable mark but whose existence is progressively challenged by the accumulation of material and a ceding to gesture that replaces depiction with sensation.
It is also not difficult to see Topfer’s paintings as an analogy to landscape and weather, or more accurately to topography and atmosphere, but the more time I have spent with them, the more I am affected by their capacity to cloak and stow emotion beneath their surface. For the experience of them to emerge from the subtle adjustments of depth and form. Despite their coolness there is a volatility in these paintings that belies apparent composure. They protect and shelter a restless energy without diminishing it.
– Andrew Jensen