Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly In League With The Night
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye:「與夜晚一起飛翔」

Tate Britain
24 November 2022 – 26 February 2023

Fly In League With The Night is the most extensive exhibition of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s work to date, taking place in Tate Britain. The exhibition was initially presented in 2020 but was cut short due to the pandemic lockdown, nevertheless, now visitors will have a second opportunity to see this special exhibition.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, born in London in 1977 and of Ghanaian descent, is considered one of the most important figurative painters of the present day, and known for her enigmatic oil paintings of human subjects who are made up of the artist’s imagination. This exhibition brings together over 70 paintings covering two decades, from her earliest works to her most recent ones. It includes paintings such as her graduation piece from the Royal Academy Schools, First (2003); as well as later well-known works like A Passion Like No Other (2012), Amaranthine (2018) and For the Sake of Angels (2018). This time, there has been a special addition of her newest works done this year, such as A Transformation (2022) or Dangle The Keys To A Kingdom (2022), and some still with the paint wet.

All of Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings depict human characters, however, these people do not exist in real life. They come from the artist’s imagination, as well as found images from scrapbooks, magazines, photographs, and sometimes from life. Regardless, the human figures in her paintings feel very much alive and familiar, yet mysterious. In the earlier stages, Yiadom-Boakye learned to paint by working from life. But while studying at Falmouth School of Art, on the Cornish coast, she realized she was more interested in the act of painting itself.

Images, memories, literature, and music, are all sources that inspire the artist’s works. Each painting explores a different emotion, movement and pose, illustrated on a canvas. As both a painter and writer of prose and poetry, writing is central to Yiadom-Boakye’s artistic practice. These two are closely intertwined. “I write about the things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about”, the artist has said. This is furthermore reflected in the titles she gives to the paintings, with no explanatory text labels, but with beautifully poetic titles, such as ‘Tie the Temptress to the Trojan’ (2016) or ‘To Improvise a Mountain’ (2018). Additionally, music plays a significant role in the artist’s practice, as she listens to music while painting, using it as inspiration or mood setter, the curator explained. The exhibition is accompanied by a Spotify playlist created by Yiadom-Boakye herself, inviting audience to listen to the music that inspired her works.

From the exhibition, we can clearly see that all the characters portrayed in her paintings are black. In the words of the artist: “Blackness has never been other to me. Therefore, I’ve never felt the need to explain its presence in the work anymore than I’ve felt the need to explain my presence in the world, however often I’m asked. […] It isn’t so much about placing black people in the canon as it is about saying that we’ve always been here, we’ve always existed, self-sufficient, outside of nightmares and imaginations, pre and post “discovery”, and in no way defined or limited by who sees us”.

What makes this exhibition even more special is the timeless quality of the characters in the paintings because the artist rarely includes anything that relates to the style, fashion or culture of a specific period of time. Yiadom-Boakye’s characters seem to exist in their own private worlds. Though they might smile or glance in our direction, they are concerned with their own space. Familiar and mysterious at the same time, these fictitious characters invite viewers to project their own interpretations and raise important questions of identity and representation. It is this uncertainty that is central to Yiadom-Boakye’s works, as it requires the viewer to use their own narratives, memories, and imagination to interpret the artist’s paintings.






現正於泰特英國美術館舉辦的《與夜晚一起飛翔》是Lynette Yiadom-Boakye迄今為止在英國舉辦的規模最大的展覽。該展覽最初於 2020年舉辦,但由於疫情原因而被迫停止。萬幸的是,疫情過後該展又重新開放,並加入了藝術家在疫情期間創作的一些新作品,最後組成了現在這個特別的展覽。

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye是一名於1977年出生在倫敦的加納裔女性藝術家,被認為是當今最重要的具像畫家之一,以其虛構的神秘人物油畫而聞名。此次展覽匯集了藝術家20年來創作的70多幅畫作,包括她最早的作品以及最新的作品:例如她早期在皇家學院的畢業作品《第一(2003)》;後來廣為人知的作品《無與倫比的激情(2012)》、《不朽(2018)》以及《為天使著想(2018)》。這一次,展覽特別增加了她2022年創作的最新作品——《變身(2022)》和《王國的鑰匙(2022)》,如果仔細觀察,我們還會發現有些畫布上的顏料還未乾透。



同時作為畫家、撰寫散文和詩歌的作家,Yiadom-Boakye 更把寫作視為藝術實踐的核心,繪畫與寫作這兩者緊密地交織在一起。




從展覽中我們可以清楚地看到,她畫中所描繪的人物都是黑人。用藝術家的話來說:“黑對我來說從來都不是他者或異類。因此,我從來沒有覺得有必要解釋它在作品中的存在,就像我覺得沒有必要解釋我在這個世界上的存在一樣,雖然我經常被問到。 […] 與其說將黑人置於正典之中,不如說我們一直在這裡,我們一直存在,自給自足,在噩夢和想像之外,在‘發現’之前和之後,並且絕不由看到我們的誰來定義或限制。”


Edited x 编辑 Victoria Huang 黄婧


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