To summon this summer season with grace, the Cheim & Read Gallery (547 West 25th Street, New York) uncovers for the second time, the beautiful paintings of American-born British artist Chantal Joffe. As if the “Night Self-portraits” exhibition in May of 2015 wasn’t bewitchingly honest enough, Joffe seems to return with revelations of a deeper kind, a lucid vision of her most personal world and family.
Her work has been shown at the Neuberger Museum of Art, New York (2009); University of the Arts, London (2007), MIMA Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (2007) and other internationally acclaimed institutions.
Captivated by the feminine mystic, Joffe re-appropriates certain fashion esthetics to which a mysterious dimension is added. Her figures are anything but stereotypical. The reason could be that she is uncompromisingly dissuaded by the generic definitions given to womanhood so far.
All of the paintings currently on display are depictions of women and girls with the exception of one entitled “Brody in Pink”, a portrait of a young blond man and “Self-Portrait with Esme in a Striped Nightie” which hints at the artist’s naked body in contrast with Esme’s textural garment. The self-portraits and portraits of her daughter almost invite the third protagonist, Joffe’s friend’s 9 year old daughter Bella. Posing for a notable amount of pieces, this young subject’s mischievous and naive resilience bursts out through the postures she’s represented in and the expression in her eyes, forever glaring at the observer.
The vibrant yet simple colors, the flatness of texture and the blunt play of shadow on light are characteristic. However the way Joffe’s decisive brush slices the figures into contained shapes is what really sets her apart from her contemporaries. One could hint at some German expressionist influences, Piero della Francesca, Francis Bacon with the added element of time seeing that her art is very much of today. The figurative teeters on the edge of improvisation. Subtle elements within the composition appear free to intermix yet the overall synthesis consistently checks out to look perfectly balanced.