Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's work draws from imagination and from life; her paintings allude to traditions of European portraiture but are less concerned with formality or specific individuals and more interested in capturing a certain mood through the subjects' attitude, glance or stare.
She places her invented characters in front of a minimally coloured background, reminiscent of generic photography studios that eliminate the characters' context. This choice implies a deliberate disengagement with some of the issues of portraiture such as the social position, profession and a personality implied by external means. Instead, the background provides a base from which the characters emanate a certain aura, presenting them as iconic individuals with an enigmatic and inquisitive character that both confronts and attracts the viewer. There are few signs that may hint at a personality such as the style of clothing or a certain pose; however, it is the lack of distraction that draws us into the world of the sitter.
Yiadom-Boakye's work possesses a raw edginess coupled with gentle elegance which results from her quick and unrestrained brush strokes. Often, a whole body of work develops simultaneously, through an imagined dialogue between the various canvasses during the process of making. The artist works swiftly and the result is often a complicit relationship between the subjects and the artist.
This is Yiadom-Boakye's first solo exhibition in the UK and is coinciding with her solo show at Arquebuse.
TALK: Saturday 14 July, 3pm
Marcus Verhagen, freelance critic and writer, in conversation with Lynette Yiadom-Boakye on the exhibition and her practice.