Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly In League With The Night

Tie the Temptress To The Trojan
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Tie the Temptress to the Trojan 2018 Collection of Michael Bertrand, Toronto © Courtesy of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

This autumn (24 November 2022 – 26 February 2023) Tate Britain will present Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s major survey exhibition Fly In League With The Night. Widely considered to be one of the most important figurative painters working today, Yiadom-Boakye (b.1977) is celebrated for her enigmatic oil paintings of human subjects who are entirely imagined by the artist.

This exhibition will bring together over 70 paintings spanning two decades, including works from her graduate exhibition.

The most extensive exhibition of the artist’s work to date, Fly In League With The Night was originally presented at Tate Britain in 2020 but was cut short by the national lockdown. UK visitors will have a special opportunity to see the exhibition at Tate Britain again, following a critically acclaimed European tour.

Citrine by the Ounce
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Citrine by the Ounce 2014 Private Collection © Courtesy of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

The figures in Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings feel both familiar and mysterious. Each of her works is created from a composite archive of found images and her own imagination, raising questions of identity and representation. Her paintings are created in spontaneous and instinctive bursts, revealing expressive, short brushstrokes and a distinctive palette of dark, dramatic tones contrasted with flashes of brightness. By stripping away the signifiers of any particular era, her figures seem to exist outside of a specific time or place, inviting viewers to project their own narratives, memories and interpretations. Surveying the development of Yiadom-Boakye’s unique formal language from 2003 to the present day, the exhibition will include early paintings such as First, created for her postgraduate exhibition at the Royal Academy Schools in 2003, alongside more recent examples of her best-known paintings including A Passion Like No Other 2012, Amaranthine 2018 and For the Sake of Angels 2018.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Complication 2013 Pinault Collection © Courtesy of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Photo: Marcus Leith

Writing is central to Yiadom-Boakye’s artistic practice, as she has explained: “I write about the things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about.” Her paintings are coupled with poetic, seemingly unrelated titles, such as Tie the Temptress to the Trojan 2016 and To Improvise a Mountain 2018. This exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue including writing by Yiadom-Boakye, the exhibition curators, and the American poet and writer Elizabeth Alexander.

To Improvise a Mountain
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye To Improvise a Mountain 2018 Private Collection © Courtesy of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Photo: Marcus Leith

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye was born in 1977 in London, where she lives and works today. She is of Ghanaian descent and in 2019 participated in the critically acclaimed Ghana Freedom pavilion at the International Venice Biennale. In 2018 she was awarded the prestigious Carnegie International Prize and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2013. Her work is represented in museum collections around the world and she has exhibited internationally including solo exhibitions at Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’ArtModerne Grand-Duc Jean (2022); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2021); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2021); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2017); the Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2016); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2015); and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2015).