This show of recent work by Chantal Joffe continues the small individual figure studies for which she has enjoyed such success, but now with the addition of some larger works in which a number of figures appear together. This is an exciting departure for Joffe’s work, extending it not just by scale, but by a new psychological relationship of her characters to each other and the viewer.
Joffe’s subjects are principally of female children, of couples ludicrously copulating, or of women being demonstrative of their sexuality to ambiguous effect. Joffe’s tamperings with these make disjunctive our usual opinions of her subject. Usual definitions of female assertiveness are tweaked and teased with skilful good humour by the artist, becoming displaced from the usual positions occupied by them upon the continuum of innocence and corruption. In this way, through her acute psychological profiling, Joffe redefines or gives subtle new emphasis to innocent or brazen sexuality, or to other kinds of sincerity, artificiality and worldliness.
Joffe’s deliberately disintegrating painting style, in which she feigns reckless carelessness, makes resonant the non-judgemental contradictions she observes of her subject matter. In this show, however, this manner of style is extended within a more ambitious organising structure - succeeding, to enjoyable effect, to allow new pluralities of meaning to announce themselves in her work