Recognised as one of Britain’s foremost painters, Joffe explores the intimate act of painting and portraiture.
This exhibition explores the intimate act of painting and portraiture. Taking its name from JD Salinger’s short story For Esmé - with Love and Squalor (1950) in which time hangs as heavy as the protagonist’s ‘enormous-faced chronographic-looking wristwatch’, the exhibition captures the changing faces across the years of the artist, Chantal Joffe and her daughter Esme, moving between mother and daughter, love and squalor, and the act of care and being cared for.
Including a number of new works (many produced during lockdown), highlights include a series of portraits of Joffe’s daughter, from older works such as Esme captured as a new-born swaddled in blankets, to the later, defiantly awkward, Esme in White, painted within days of her sixteenth birthday.
These sit alongside a number of self-portraits, including the intimate Bonnard-inspired Reading in Bath I and III, never-before seen series, Pictures of What I Did Not See where Joffe is depicted during a traumatic illness being cared for by Esme, and a series of startlingly honest self-portraits.
Produced one a day over the course of a year this 2018 series captures both the artist and her environment, from London’s cool winter light to the haze of a summer in the stifling New York heat.