Chantal Joffe’s intimate self-portraits can be unflattering, but that is why they work. By Karen Wright.
Karen Wright discovers that this is an artist to watch, and a moment to celebrate, at a powerful show in Hastings.
The Jerwood Gallery continues to focus on its Hastings location with a powerful new show from the English painter Chantal Joffe. Although she is now based in east London, Joffe lived in Hastings as a teenager and her mother and two sisters still live there. Billed as an intimate portrait of her family, the exhibition features many of them – her sisters, nieces, husband, mother and her daughter – often pictured on a bleak seafront, bundled up against the searing wind, with assorted dogs in tow. It’s good to see another great female painter, at the same time as Tate Modern showcases the work of the South African artist Marlene Dumas.
The show has been co-curated by Rose Wylie, the wonderful painter, now in her eighties, who started the exhibition programme at the gallery. In an introductory room an artistic dialogue is opened between the two artists in portraits. Wylie has created a likeness of Joffe in pencil that I know she would appreciate, both for its scarcity of line and its anxious, enquiring facial expression. Joffe’s accompanying portrait captures, also economically, Wylie’s glamorous demeanour, and is wittily labelled “painter”. It is always a treat to see Wylie’s work – so apparently casual yet impossible to replicate. Although they had met socially and showed together at one point, the two never had the chance to converse in any depth. Wylie’s part in this conversation is heartfelt, and a welcome addition to the exhibition...