Chantal Joffe: Women
"Joffe is effortlessly fluent in her descriptions of human emotions through manipulated external appearances... she shows the inherent gormlessness to which we are all susceptible, no matter how cool, which reveals our greater humanity."
Neal Brown, Frieze
Best known for her small paintings of children and larger bucolic landscapes, this series Women, by Chantal Joffe, reveals significant changes. The exhibition includes approximately fifteen paintings depicting individual women in languid poses, many of whom look invitingly at the viewer. While the brush strokes in the new paintings remain sensual and spontaneous, Joffe's palette has shifted to more muted and varied colours and her subjects are now anchored in landscapes and distinct interiors rather than floating in a void.
The paintings have intriguingly ambiguous origins. It is unclear whether the women depicted are real or women brought to life in paint through Joffe's vivid, psychologically accurate imagination. The works shift between appearing to be portraits of friends and looking like anonymous icons torn from the media or concocted in the realm of fantasy. Whichever the case, the paintings have the richness of fiction, as if they captured a moment in the life of a literary heroine.
Joffe's women are complex and contradictory. They appear both demure and defiant, honest and secretive, confident and vulnerable. They express certainty and doubt not just through their figuration but through Joffe's distinctive style of painting whose increasingly mature and assured brush strokes still manage to preserve a sexy tentativeness.