Personal Feeling is the main thing – Chantal Joffe at The Lowry

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
The Squid and the Whale, 2017, Chantal Joffe. Image courtesy of The Lowry

Personal Feeling is the main thing - Chantal Joffe at The Lowry, Salford 19 May — 2 September 2018 Entrance is free

“Painting is the absolute present tense of a moment,” stated Royal Academician Chantal Joffe in an interview about her relationship to her work. And perhaps it is this attitude – as well as her approach, explaining elsewhere: “I paint fast, in a kind of frenzy” – that partly accounts for the raw immediacy and intense frankness that characterises her countless striking portraits of women, girls and herself. This, and the fact that she now mostly only paints subjects she is close to.

Joffe first rose to prominence in the mid 1990s for her tiny but luminous paintings of women posing in pornographic magazines. Yet her focus has shifted since pregnancy and the birth of her daughter Esme (which the artist describes as having been “a real coming of age moment”), towards themes of motherhood, childhood and adolescence ­– straddling both the physical realm of the body and the psychological realm of human emotion. “I don’t want to make pretty paintings” she recently explained, “I’m after an honest, almost brutal quality” – something she doesn’t shy away from in her self-portraits as well as those of others. Today, she is recognised for having made a distinctive contribution to the landscape of contemporary figurative painting.

In the past, Joffe has consciously emulated artists like Giacometti and Matisse in her work. Yet, for her first major solo exhibition in the North of England, Personal Feeling is the Main Thing at The Lowry, featuring over 50 canvases, the artist has chosen to exhibit alongside a series of four paintings by one of her many important female artist inspirations: the German expressionist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907). Modersohn-Becker died just 18 days after giving birth to her first child, at the age of 31, and is today recognised as being one of the first women to paint a nude self-portrait and, later, a series of self-portraits whilst pregnant (leading to the inclusion of her work in the infamous 1937 Degenerate Art Exhibition, and much of her output being posthumously destroyed in Nazi Germany.)

The title of Joffe’s exhibition – Personal Feeling is the Main Thing – is based on a quote by Modersohn-Becker and highlights the central connection between these two great artists; an ability to capture something of the inner experience of being and the ever-changing landscape of our internal selves. Chantal Joffe: Personal Feeling is the Main Thing forms part of RA250 UK – a nationwide programme of exhibitions, displays, talks and events being held throughout 2018 to celebrate the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary. Find out what else is going on nearby here.

Personal Feeling is the main thing - Chantal Joffe at The Lowry, Salford 19 May — 2 September 2018 Entrance is free

What's on at The Lowry

Aakash Odedra - Mehek at The Lowry
DanceThe Quays
Aakash Odedra – Mehek at The Lowry

An enchanting exploration of the human heart masterfully danced by Aakash Odedra and Aditi Mangaldas, the great South Asian dancers of their respective generations.

from £16.50
Jo Lathwood: Making Up at The Lowry

‘Jo Lathwood: Making Up’ at the Lowry puts the ethos of sustainability through reuse and redistribution into practice with a brand new site-specific installation.

free entry

Where to go near Personal Feeling is the main thing – Chantal Joffe at The Lowry

Irwell Sculpture Trail

The 33-mile trail, which follows the River Irwell from Salford Quays all the way to Bacup in Pennine Lancashire, has been around for over a decade, but it’s recently been restored and expanded.

Shopping Centre
Lowry Outlet Mall

The Lowry Outlet Mall in The Quays district of Manchester sits opposite both The Lowry and MediaCityUK, Europe’s largest media hub and the home of BBC North.

Bar or Pub
Central Bay

Central Bay is a new waterfront dining and drinking destination at Quayside MediaCity, opening summer 2023.

The Quays
The Alchemist Mediacity

The latest offering from the UK-conquering Alchemist has an energetic vibe similar to others in this highly-regarded chain of restaurants.

at Salford Quays

Jump into waters of dock 9 at Salford Quays with Uswim, they bring the benefits and freedom of open water swimming to the convenience of a central location.

11 Central

11 Central is a new bar and microbrewery launched by local brewing legends SEVEN BRO7HERS BREWING CO at the Central Bay site in Salford.

Ice Rink
MCUK Ice Rink
at Media City

Embrace that most Christmassy of activities and get your skates on outside of the chaotic city centre this winter. The Ice Rink at Media City will be serving festive fun till January 5th.

Booths Media City

The Booths branch at Media City, Salford Quays is much appreciated by TV, radio and media executives who work in the area.

What's on: Exhibitions

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.