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 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. Her predominantly black cast of characters often attracts attention. In an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist in Kaleidoscope, she explained “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. She is the 2018 recipient of the Carnegie Prize, awarded for her contribution to the Carnegie International, 57th Edition. She was short-listed for the 2013 Turner Prize.
Yiadom-Boakye has had many important solo museum shows, including an upcoming survey that will open at Tate Britain in London in 2020 that will travel to Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain. Her work is currently included in the inaugural Ghanaian pavilion at the Venice Biennale and has a solo exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art as part of the Hilton Als series.
She is included in numerous institutional collections, ranging from the Tate Collection, London to The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Within the past two years, her work has been added to the permanent collections of the Art Gallery Museum of Southern Australia, Adelaide; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Yale Center for British Art, Connecticut.
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 In Lieu of a Louder Love in January 2019.