Revisiting Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Striking Portraits

We’re spending some time today remembering the dreamlike portraits of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye featured in the 2018 Carnegie International. Her striking paintings feature imagined characters whose modern clothes and loosely defined settings feel timeless and full of life. She works quickly, completing each painting within a day. She begins by priming the linen canvas and then layers on the background, which is “critically calculated in a calculus of glow,” curator Ingrid Schaffner wrote in the exhibition’s guidebook.

Two people wearing dark clothes crouch close together, looking into each other's eyes
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, No Need for Speech (detail), 2018, Carnegie Museum of Art

“If you walked into a room with a thousand people in it, and one of the people in her paintings was there, that’s who you’d want to meet,” Yiadom-Boakye’s friend, designer Duro Olowu told Vogue.

A gallery view of three portraits of black figures
Installation view of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Carnegie International, 57th Edition, 2018, Carnegie Museum of Art. Photo: Bryan Conley