Lynette Yiadom-Boakye - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 3, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    The Franks-Suss Collection, London (acquired directly from the artist in 2005)
    Christie's, London, 12 February 2016, lot 159 (acquired from the above in 2013)
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    With a painterly practice that focuses on fictional characters, beyond specific times and places, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's work is situated at the forefront of contemporary portraiture. Drawn from memory and collected photographic material, the artist has described her protagonists as ‘suggestions of people…They don’t share our concerns or anxieties. They are somewhere else altogether’ (Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, quoted in Nadine Rubin Nathan, ‘Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Fashionable Eye’, The New York Times Magazine, 15 November 2010, online). As Zadie Smith pertinently notes, ‘Yiadom-Boakye has inherited a narrative compulsion, which has less to do with capturing the real than with provoking, in her audience, a desire to impose a story upon an image. Central to this novelistic practice is learning about how to leave sufficient space, so as to give your audience room to elaborate’ (Zadie Smith, ‘Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Imaginary Portraits’, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, online).

    The present work, a compelling portrait of an imaginary character detached from an identifiable moment in time, is archetypal of Yiadom-Boakye’s practice. With her fixed, piercing gaze, the protagonist at once captures our attention. Seated atop an ornate chair, she is smartly dressed though not wearing shoes. The artist’s desire to paint outside particular historical moments is at the forefront of the composition, as identifiable shoes would allow time to become clearly defined.

    Articulating the character’s personality through rich, velvety, yet sober tones and tangible brushstrokes, Yiadom-Boakye’s expressive painterly practice challenges the bounds of material representation and recalls the masters of personality and portraiture, Lucian Freud, Thomas Gainsborough and Edgar Degas. Commenting on her practice, the artist explains ‘I want to think about painting, not the personality of the [person] sitting with me. I’m far more interested in how we can make people intelligible through paint, rather than getting bogged down in characters ... I want the work to be pulled out of the air somehow’ (Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, quoted in 'Interview with Lynette Yiadom-Boakye', May 2012, online). Bringing the esoteric qualities of her characters to life through brushstrokes, the artist conjures compelling personalities from the depths of her imagination.

  • Artist Biography

    Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

    British • 1977

    Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a British painter who is a leader in the contemporary renaissance of portraiture. Her subjects are typically depicted with loose brushwork, floating against muted, ambiguous backgrounds that contribute to a sense of timelessness. Known for the speed of her work, she often completes a canvas in a single day and considers the physical properties of paint to be at the core of her practice. 

    Yiadom-Boakye was born to Ghanaian parents in London, where she continues to live and work today. In 2013, she was a finalist for the Turner Prize and she was selected for participation in the 55th Venice Biennale. In 2018, the artist won the Carnegie Prize for painting. Her work can be found in the permanent collections at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Studio Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others. 

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signed with the artist’s initials, titled and dated 'LYB 2005 "Second"' on the reverse
oil on canvas
180 x 162.3 cm (70 7/8 x 63 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2005.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £137,500

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Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 4 October 2018