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Chantal Joffe

Best of London commercial galleries chosen by Louisa Buck

Chantal Joffe, Victoria Miro

Chantal Joffe is best known for her lusciously-executed paintings of children and women, originally culled from snapshots, children’s clothing catalogues or, in the case of her often explicitly-posed women, pornographic magazines. This exhibition of some 15 new works finds her working with a more restrained subject matter and refining and intensifying her painterly skills (4 April-7 May). In these new paintings the children have now gone, and the emphasis is on individual women. But while some of these figures may still be languidly, even provocatively arranged, they are emphatically presented as individuals rather than images. Whether their origins lie in fact or fiction, whether they first appeared in magazines or photographs, their past incarnations matter less than ever. For now Joffe is using her own considerable imagination to recreate them as very particular people, placed in specific surroundings where they function as fully-formed characters in their own right (above, “Big head”, 2002).

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 135 April 2003