‘Why are there no men? It’s because I think about women and their thoughts and ideas, and I suppose when I’m painting them I’m getting to be them, in a sense.’
(C. Joffe, quoted in S. McCartney, ‘Chantal Joffe’, Interview Magazine, 6th August 2009)
Joffe seems to resurrect these women as real people, the paint reanimating faces that were previously mask-like. Although the models are undoubtedly human, with cares and woes, more anodyne characteristics and expressions are imposed by stylists and photographers. Chantal Joffe has a distinctive style of painting which offers an uncompromising sense of power, complexity and impetus to the female figures she portrays.
The process of painting was very physical, requiring scaffolding and stamina. Unlike easel paintings, they could not easily be stepped back from to survey progress. As a result, the paint seems to have had as much control over the outcome as the artist; often a drip or a brushstroke creates a dynamic that could never have been premeditated.