By Nii B. Andrews.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye was among the group of artists that represented Ghana at the country’s debut showing at the Venice Biennale in 2019.

Her dark, enigmatic, brooding figurative oil portraits of fictitious people cast in solitude have earned her high international acclaim. 

The figures are created from found images and her own imagination thus rendering them both familiar and mysterious.

Viewers are seduced to project their own interpretations, and raise important questions of identity and representation.

The Guardian art columnist, Jonathan Jones posits that, “these are paintings of states of being, states of the human soul”.

A landmark exhibition featuring around 80 works by Yiadom-Boakye from 2003 to the present day is ongoing at Tate Britain until May 9 2021; it is titled FLYING IN LEAGUE WITH THE NIGHT.

Perhaps it is trite to record that over the last several years, there has been a deluge of figurative portraiture by Ghanaian artists…..and lately also by Nigerian artists.

Is this part of a movement by Yiadom-Boakye and other emergent artists – Botchway, Kye Quaicoe, Amoako Boafo, Adjei Tawiah and Taku Scarf – to retool the 17th century Dutch tronie for the vagaries of a modern age?

Then as now, does the economics of the art market play a role; is that good or bad and does it matter? 

Yiadom-Boakye was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Prize in 2018 and was the 2012 recipient of the Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Prize. 

She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2013.

The scale and quality of her work as exhibited at the Tate, certainly assures her of an exalted place in CAA.

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