Walking into Tate Britain’s quiet rooms, we find ourselves surrounded by alluring yet enigmatic figures of all sizes, several gazing at us. After many weeks in lockdown, their power of attraction is almost magnetic. They take a pose, sometimes deep in thought, sometimes confidently, sometimes with disdain. It is hard to pin down where they come from or to which century they belong. At times, it feels that they want to start a conversation with us, or maybe it's we who wants to start a conversation with them? Perhaps they are just part of an emotion we’ve felt before, bringing back an intimate memory.
What is extraordinary is that none of the people depicted in the portraits exists. A bit like characters from novels, they all come from Yadom-Boakye’s imagination; the artist makes them up from scrapbooks of collected pictures, photographs, postcards and magazine cuttings that help her to form an image. She doesn’t make any preparatory drawings, but starts directly on the canvas.
And while her style is influenced by the Old Masters, and painters such as John Singer Sargent and Manet, her work is the product of a modern mind.
'I write about things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about.'
The written word plays a huge part in Yadom-Boakye’s life and work, and the titles she chooses for her paintings only strengthen the characters' magnetic mystery, like the painting below, which was made during lockdown with the powerful title: Few Reasons Left to Like You.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is undoubtedly one of her generation's most intriguing painters, and this exhibition of her work will leave you mesmerised.
|What||Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly in League with the Night, Tate Britain|
|Where||Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Pimlico (underground)|
02 Dec 20 – 09 May 21, Open daily 10am – 6pm
|Website||Click here for more information|