Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s oil paintings focus on fictional figures that exist outside of specific times and places. In a 2010 interview with Nadine Rubin Nathan in the New York Times Magazine, Yiadom-Boakye described her compositions as “suggestions of people...They don’t share our concerns or anxieties. They are somewhere else altogether.” This lack of fixed narrative leaves her work open to the projected imagination of the viewer.
Her paintings are rooted in traditional formal considerations such as line, color, and scale, and can be self-reflexive about the medium itself, but the subjects and the way in which the paint is handled is decidedly contemporary. Yiadom- Boakye’s paintings are typically completed in a day to best capture a single moment or stream of consciousness.
Her predominantly black cast of characters often attracts attention. In a recent interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist in Kaleidoscope, she explained, “Race is something that I can completely manipulate, or reinvent, or use as I want to. Also, they’re all black because...I’m not white.” However Yiadom-Boakye maintains, “People are tempted to politicize the fact that I paint black figures, and the complexity of this is an essential part of the work. But my starting point is always the language of painting itself and how that relates to the subject matter.”
Yiadom-Boakye was born in 1977 in London, where she is currently based. She attended Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Falmouth College of Arts and the Royal Academy Schools.
Yiadom-Boakye has had several important solo museum shows, most recently at the Haus der Kunst, Munich (October 2015) and The Serpentine Gallery, London (June 2015). She was included in the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA): A Story Within a Story, at the Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg, Sweden from September 12 - November 22, 2015 and The British Art Show 8, traveling to four venues between 2015 and 2017.
Recent group exhibitions include the Sharjah Biennial 12: The past, the present, and the possible (2015); The Encyclopedic Palace, at the 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia (2013); The Ungovernables: 2012 New Museum Triennial, New Museum, New York (2012); the 11th Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France (2012).
She is included in many institutional collections including the Tate Collection, London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Miami Art Museum, Florida, the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, the Arts Council Collection, London, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Yiadom-Boakye was the 2012 recipient of the Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Prize, which was accompanied by a solo exhibition of her work. She was short-listed for the 2013 Turner Prize and Prestel has published a monograph of her work.
Jack Shainman Gallery has represented Yiadom-Boakye since 2010 when she had her first solo show entitled Essays and Documents. Her most recent show with the gallery was The Love Within in November 2014.