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 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.

For the past six years Joe’s work has been more about pressing issues, she’s been listening closely to the world around her and her work speaks to that.

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