Art / News

Chantal Joffe exhibition opens at Arnolfini

By bristol247, Wednesday Sep 2, 2020

A major new exhibition from one of Britain’s foremost painters opens on Thursday at the Arnolfini.

Chantal Joffe is known for her intimate portrayal of women captured within rich layers of paint, with her work portraying the “fragility of life”.

The exhibition, Chantal Joffe: For Esme – with Love and Squalor, runs until November and marks a return to the Arnolfini exhibiting pioneering painters.

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The exhibition captures the changing faces across the years of Chantal and her daughter Esme and includes a number of new works that the US-born artist produced during lockdown.

Chantal Joffe: For Esme – with Love and Squalor is curated by Dorothy Price, Chantal Joffe and Gemma Brace – photo Arnolfini

Poppy, Esme, Oleanna, Gracie and Kate, 2014, oil on canvas. Photography by Stephen White © Chantal Joffe courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Esme with a Striped Blanket, Chantal Joffe, 2008, oil on canvas. Photography by Jack Hems © Chantal Joffe courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Esme at Sixteen, Chantal Joffe, 2020, oil on board. Photography by Benjamin Westoby © Chantal Joffe courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Me and Esme in the Garden, Chantal Joffe, 2020, oil on canvas, 80 x 60cm. Photography by Benjamin Westoby © Chantal Joffe courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Highlights include a series of portraits of Esme from older works such as Esme (First Painting) captured as a newborn swaddled in blankets, to the later, defiantly awkward, Esme in White, painted within days of
her sixteenth birthday this year.

These sit alongside a number of self-portraits, including the Bonnard-inspired Reading in Bath I and Reading in Bath III; never-before seen series Pictures of What I Did Not See, which depicts Joffe undergoing a traumatic illness and being cared for by Esme and a series of startlingly honest self-portraits.

Co-curator Dorothy Price, art historian and long-time collaborator of Joffe, says that Joffe’s work “traces a finger of time through the very act of being alive”.

Chantal Joffe: For Esme – with Love and Squalor runs from September 3 to November 22 2020. Exhibition slots are free and bookable in advance. For more information, visit www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/chantal-joffe

Self-portrait naked with Esme, Chantal Joffe, 2017, oil on board, Photography by Benjamin Westoby © Chantal Joffe courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Reading in the Bath I, Chantal Joffe, 2019, oil on canvas, Photography by Benjamin Westoby © Chantal Joffe courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Self-portrait III, August, Chantal Joffe, 2018, oil on board. Photography by Jack Hems © Chantal Joffe courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Self-portrait after the bath (after Degas), Chantal Joffe, 2015, pastel on paper. Photography by Benjamin Westoby © Chantal Joffe courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Main image: Esme at the Kitchen Table, Chantal Joffe, 2020, oil on canvas, Photograhy by Benjamin Westoby © Chantal Joffe courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Read more: Remembering one of Bristol’s most memorable cultural experiences of recent years

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