“Painting of provocative narrative and beauty”

The Independent

Joe close-up

Joe Hesketh is an avant-garde British painter known for her semi abstract paintings which interpret life as a woman in 21st century Britain. Her ominous portraits veer between humour and tragedy, resulting in a disconcerting and yet entirely unique visual duality. Themes of transgression and the grotesque pervade her work.

With the support of the British Arts Council, Joe shot to artistic fame when she embarked on a series of paintings commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials in Lancashire, where the artist is based. Following this, her A Pendle Investigation exhibition at The Newman St Gallery, London, was a critical success, as well as her series depicting the life and works of American confessional poet Sylvia Plath.

Her paintings often feature herself in unflattering and self-critical ways. While on the one hand, there is an undertone of self-doubt and vulnerability, the brazen way in which Joe confronts her inner demons is both subversive and admirable. Joe works with fiercely blended colours, heavy layering and deformed, eerie figures which gaze out from her canvas. For example, in Baby Wipes and Rubber Ring, both in oil, there’s something deceptively uncanny about the jester-like subjects; it’s not clear whether you’re observing them or whether they’re observing you.

"Joe Hesketh is obviously a character and it shows in her large and brazenly sensuous paintings… Hesketh gives oils the translucent resonance of watercolours… this alone invests her improvisations with the heady dizziness of highly ambivalent dreams. You’re never quite sure whether what’s going on is a matter of fun or fear."

The Guardian

Site wrangled into being by @Dissential