Chantal Joffe, Victoria Miro Gallery
Louise Richardson, Montpelier Sandelson, 4 Montpelier Street, London SW7 (0171-584 0667), to 10 May
Two shows this week: both by women artists born in 1969; both at the start of promising, if very different, careers. The first, Chantal Joffe, was one of the more conspicuous new talents at the Royal College of Art degree show in 1994. Her big rude paintings were hard to miss, not least because of their subject matter, but also because of the way that she paints with a kind of easy control - effortless without being slick.
Since then she has scaled down her work and toned down her subject matter, although the pages of pornographic magazines still seem to provide occasional inspiration. However, she now also makes use of more innocent images from childrenswear catalogues and the like. The current show at the Victoria Miro Gallery consists of 60 or so figure paintings (mostly women and young girls) arranged in two blocks, so that each work, although a picture in its own right, seems like a fragment of a larger whole: part of a population of awkward little people.
At first glance they look simple enough, frothy, charming, even a bit childish, but they have an unsettling quality which gives the exhibition an odd, rather menacing mood.
Something similar, although stemming from very different work, hangs over Louise Richardson's exhibition of recent sculpture at Montpelier Sanderson.
Richardson, a graduate of the Norwich School of Art, makes sculpture in wax, lead and various unlikely materials including, in the current show, a dress that looks like fur, but turns out to be made of nails. It is a surreal, slightly sinister bit of sculpture which signals a tougher approach. (In fact, this is the second of three similar pieces she has made. The first caused a stir of interest at this year's Art 97, with people queuing for a look at it.) Her work has always been beautifully constructed but on the evidence here it is becoming less fragile and more durable, in every sense.
EYE ON THE NEW Gainsborough's House in Suffolk is not just the birthplace of one of our greatest painters. It also has a lively exhibition programme and a newly refurbished printmaking workshop (opens from 22 Apr thanks to pounds 64,200 from the Lottery.
46 Gainsborough Street, Sudbury, Suffolk (01787 372958)
"The Tollund Man", Seamus Heaney's brilliant "bog people" poem, has inspired the work in Michael Rees' first London exhibition. The imagery is a bit glum: skulls, bones and the like, but they're nicely painted and, from pounds 170, surprisingly cheap.
Austin Desmond, Pied Bull Yard, 68 Great Russell Street, London WC1
Life & Style blogs
Plus live in a folly tower and Towcester growth
Plus how much you need to earn to rent in London, and new homes figures
Plus where The Apprentices live, house price growth outside London, and househunter numbers
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: This is a senior appointment with huge potent...
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...