Chantal Joffe brings a combination of insight and integrity, as well as psychological and emotional force, to the genre of figurative art. Hers is a deceptively casual brushstroke. Whether in images a few inches square or ten feet high, fluidity combined with a pragmatic approach to representation seduces and disarms. Almost always depicting women or girls, sometimes in groups but recently in iconic portraits, Joffe’s paintings only waveringly adhere to their source – be it a photograph, magazine page or even a reflection in the mirror – instead reminding us that distortions of scale and form can often make a subject seem more real.
Joffe’s paintings always alert us to how appearances are carefully constructed and codified, whether in a fashion magazine or the family album, and to the choreography of display. There’s witty neutrality in a career-spanning line-up that has given equal billing to catwalk models, porn actresses, mothers and children, loved ones and literary heroines.