At the core of Chantal Joffe's painting practice is an investigation into the human experience, tracing the transitional moments, such as child-rearing and ageing, and the consequential hopes and anxieties that constitute life. Usually depicting women and children, as well as herself, Joffe delves into the mechanics of representing beauty and the female form in both public and private spaces.Read More
Joffe graduated with an MA from London's Royal College of Art in 1994 and began to garner attention for small-scale paintings based on pornography. In an article for the Guardian in 2009, the artist reflected on her interest in painting nudes as offering the featured women new life, writing that 'I saw my paintings as resurrecting them.' Joffe's use of broad slabs of paint, which dry to an almost sculptural quality, and the expressiveness of her work continued into her later oeuvre.
Following the birth of her daughter Esme in 2004, motherhood has been a primary subject for Joffe. In Self-Portrait Pregnant II (2004), Joffe poses in mismatched underwear with confidence and ease, while in Self Portrait with Esme (2008) she contrasts her body with that of young and growing Esme. Her solo exhibition For Esme—With Love and Squalor at Arnolfini, Bristol, in 2020 brought together a group of works that provided intimate and uncontrived depictions of childhood and maternity.
For Esme also included 'Pictures of What I Did Not See' (2019): a series of oil stick paintings Joffe made while recovering from a collapse of which she had no memory. Esme looked after Joffe during her recuperation—a reversal of the standard parent-child relationship that perhaps inspired the artist to portray her daughter as a towering figure in Esme at Sixteen (2020). Esme's black blouse against the painting's white background gives her body a solidity as a robust and mature teenager.
Adolescence is, however, also contradictory and fraught with self-consciousness. Joffe explored these themes in Teenagers at Lehmann Maupin, Seoul, in 2020. Her first solo exhibition with the gallery as well as her first solo presentation in Seoul, Teenagers saw the artist present new works that unveil the emotional peaks and valleys of growing up, featuring Esme and her friends.
Expanding her career-long engagement with self-portraiture as a mode through which she documents her thoughts, Joffe painted herself every day of 2018. In various scales, the self-portraits capture different emotions and subtleties of daily life. Night Self-Portrait I, March depicts the artist against a black background, while Self-Portrait II, August focuses on her face, a bright green hue to her skin. Joffe exhibited a selection of the self-portraits in her 2019 solo exhibition at Victoria Miro Mayfair, London.
Lucie and Daryll: Chantal Joffe Looking at Lucian Freud, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2020); Teenagers, Lehmann Maupin, Seoul (2020); Personal Feeling Is the Main Thing, The Lowry, Salford (2018); Chantal Joffe, Cheim & Read, New York (2017); Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Chantal Joffe, curated by Jens Hoffmann, The Jewish Museum, New York (2015).
Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media, The Foundling Museum, London (2020); In Her Hands, Skarstedt, New York (2020); Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2019); Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2018); Friendship Portraits: Chantal Joffe and Ishbel Myerscough, National Portrait Gallery, London (2015).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020
Sales of works on paper and illustrated face masks will support charities and struggling art institutions.
Sunday 11 March I woke for the first time this morning at a little after three. My daughter, who has started to sleep alone, had called out for me, and then for water. I held the cup in one hand, the back of her head in the other, leaning over her kneeling body, murmuring something. She drank deeply and then fell forwards on to the pillow, eyes...
Every time I go to Chantal’s studio we eat cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery, get hopped up on sugar and talk very fast. We met because she read my book The Lonely City and asked if I’d come and sit for her. I feel like we made friends as soon as I walked through the door. She says she’s shy, but she’s one of the most open, engrossing talkers I...
In celebration of its 250 th birthday, London's Royal Academy Of Arts explores the historic practice of life drawing in a revolutionary way. Beginning with the Academy's 18 th -century origins, From Life continues to the present and, most intriguingly, moves into the future. Historical paintings hang alongside works by Cai Guo-Qiang, Jenny...
An immersive, site-specific exhibition titled Human Condition is currently taking up residency at a former hospital in West Adams, Los Angeles – once known as Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center. Opening in 1971, it was the first Black-owned hospital in the California city, running until the neighbourhood’s decline and revelations...