Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s oil paintings focus on fictional figures that exist outside of specific times and places. In an interview with Nadine Rubin Nathan, Yiadom-Boakye describes 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 explains. “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 Chisenhale Gallery, London (2012) and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2011). Her work has appeared in many group exhibitions, most recently including the Ungovernables: 2012 New Museum Triennial, New Museum, New York (2012), and the 11th Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France (2012). Her work is included in the Encyclopedic Palace, at the 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia (2013).
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, and the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina.
Yiadom-Boakye was the 2012 recipient of the Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Price and has been short-listed for the 2013 Turner Prize. Her self- titled monograph published by Prestel will be available in Spring 2014.
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 All Manner of Needs in 2012. Her next solo exhibition with the gallery will be in 2014.
The figures in Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s portraits are all fictions, conjured from a scrapbook of memories. Each one is completed in a single day, because, as she puts it: ‘Coming back to a work never improves it’. The paintings are carefully ambiguous – clothing is generic, the setting is hard to discern and even the gender of the subjects is uncertain. On the eve of the 2013 Turner Prize exhibition in Derry, TateShots visited her at her studio in London’s Bethnal Green.
Yiadom-Boakye was nominated for the Turner Prize on the strength of her solo exhibition Extracts and Verses at Chisenhale Gallery.