Left: Portrait of Chantal Joffe by Nicholas Sinclair. Right: Chantal Joffe, Anne Sexton and Me, 1994. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Chantal Joffe.
Paintings by Chantal Joffe. Top row: Jean and Robert, 2015; Anne in her Study, 2015; Esme in the Beach Hut, 2015. Bottom row: Esme in the Beach Hut, 2015; Ted and Sylvia, 2015; Sheridan, Caroline, Ivana and Robert, 2015. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Chantal Joffe.
The extent and long duration of Joffe’s identification with her idols is apparent in a small collage, dating from 1994. Titled Anne Sexton and Me, it depicts the poet’s suicide in her car by carbon monoxide poisoning, her face here substituted for an incongruously cheerful, tightly cropped photograph of the artist herself. In person, the connection between these tragic, famously immoderate poets and the shy, solitary artist who sits with knees clutched up to her chin is hard to fathom. But in her painting, which combines the tight organization of form and color with a thrilling absence of restraint, the influence is unmistakeable. Joffe’s description of their poetry might also faithfully describe her own painting: “Pure expressionism doesn’t work ... it is just a vomiting out of crap. There has to be structure, control, intention.” In Joffe’s best work, her quick, expressive handling of flesh tones balances with perfectly weighted stripes, lines, patterns, and clever framing devices.
Paintings by Chantal Joffe. Top row: Brocade Dress, 2015; Assia, 2015; Yellow Ballgown, 2015. Bottom row: Blonde in a Black Sweater, 2015; Esme in the Garden, 2015. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Chantal Joffe.
Chantal Joffe is on view at Victoria Miro Mayfair, London, Jan. 22–Mar. 24, 2016
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