This painting is a portrait of Fraser, the son of Joffe’s friend and fellow artist Ishbel Myercough. A slim boy, looking to the front, he is sitting on a brightly coloured sofa that draws attention to the pale naked body. His head and legs are cropped as if it was a photograph. Joffe’s work gives importance to the psychology of the character, his innocence, which she captures through the way in which his hands and legs are interlacing; the awkwardness of youth, shown through his corporal expression.
As is well known, Joffe has always expressed a particular preference for women and children as her subjects. Unlike other portraits, which usually adopt large-scale formats, this painting is smaller in size. Her characteristic fluid execution, based on the use of an open and dynamic brushwork, suggests proximity and familiarity. One can appreciate the themes of maternity and friendship as the central motifs underlying this wonderfully expressive and intimate portrait.
Chantal Joffe studied a Foundation Course at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts between 1987 and 1988, she has a B.A. (Hons) Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art 1988 – 91, and an MA from the Royal College of Art. She was awarded the Royal Academy Woollaston Prize in 2006. Joffe has exhibited nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include the National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavík (2016); the National Portrait Gallery, London (2015); the Jewish Museum, New York (2015); the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (2015). Her work is in the collections of The Jewish Museum (New York, USA), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (USA), the Arts Council of England (UK), the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, (France), the Saatchi Collection (London, UK), the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edinburgh, UK), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA) and The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, Massachusetts, USA) among others.