Whitehot Magazine

June 2009, Chantal Joffe @ Cheim & Read

June 2009, Chantal Joffe @ Cheim & Read
Chantal Joffe, Grasshopper, 2009, Oil on board 96 x 72 inches, 243.8 x 182.9 centimeters, CR# CJ.18773


Chantal Joffe at Cheim & Read
547 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001
7 May through 20 June, 2009

Unrestrained allusions to the fashion world extol nothing in common with the art world. British painter, Chantal Joffe uncovers and confronts this primordial tug-of-war with large paintings of models such as Grasshopper (96 x 72 inches). They are inspired by the behind the scenes at the Paris high fashion runway shows. 
The art world exalts our freedom, yet freedom doesn’t mean anything when you feel that you do not deserve to exist. Certainly, the mood which is unleashed during economic highs has, up until now, reinforced this belief in the femme fatale as in Green Dress Black Knickers (84 x 55 inches). So, we are faced with an existential question, that of divining archetypal ideals of youth and beauty, while at the same time oppressing our own potential. 
Dr. Dee, a country woman from California, via Mississippi wandered into the opening. She just gallery hopped over from Betty Cuningham Gallery. She had rainbow dreadlocks down to her knees and wore maroon bellbottoms. Her body was extra-terrestrial. Her eyes were sparkling blue and when she smiled, her piercings were outshined by her dimples. She endearingly commented to me that, “Love is the new black.” Meanwhile, in the back room, Anne Berthoud, a collector from Basel explained that the premise of Joffe’s work had to do with Matisse’s collages. 

Upon examining the pricey collages ($7,500 each) such as Backless Dress (19 ¾ x 13 ¾ inches), I took note that Joffe uses Canson paper and clear glue. While she studied with Peter Doig at the Master’s Program of the Royal College of Art, I believe her paintings emanate from collage rather than from his syntactical brushstroke. There, her collages are morphed into a Cubist language where somehow, she takes on less of a martyrdom role. Joffe’s role in the art world entitles her to become the target in between of which are her paintings.  In fact, in order for her to construct her images, Joffe encounters this singular split which is in play between the art world and the fashion world. Peace and order in art may have vanished, existing only in the old schools left behind in pre-art history. No longer do mortal defilements and the cycle from birth to death relate to religious piety. In Joffe’s hands, the two worlds become intertwined.


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Claudia Schwalb

Schwalb graduated from Pratt Institute in 1974.  She was an emerging artist during the Minimalist movement in the 1970's.  She was raised in New York City during the Abstract Expressionist era. Claudia was the youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at The Clocktower/P.S.1 in 1977.  Claudia went on to write for Barbara Rose's Journal of Art and was one of the Contributing Editors of Cover/Arts New York along with John Yau and Judd Tully (Editor-at-Large for Arts & Auction).  She was Curator of the Knitting Factory and a television news transcriber for Peter Jennings' World News Tonight.  Subsequently, Claudia transcribed two movies, "Refuge" and "Interview with the Dalai Lama" which played at the Quad last year.  claudschwa@aol.com

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