Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Tate Britain's forthcoming exhibition on Lynette Yiadom-Boakye will represent the first major retrospective of the work of the gifted painter. Peter Gray reports.


Principally known for her dazzlingly imaginative depictions of fictitious characters, the artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is the subject of a major exhibition at Tate Britain this summer.

The exhibition will include over 80 works by the artist, including several pieces from Boakye’s graduate collection and works which have not previously been seen in public.

The British Ghanaian painter, who studied at Central Saint Martin’s college in London, has gained a formidable reputation for her figurative paintings over the last few years.

Using a mix of found images, memory, imagination and artistic licence, Boakye has created a gallery of characters who may at first seem familiar but who in reality only exist in the artist’s imagination.

The artist’s distinctive style, sombre palette and careful control use of detailing combine to produce subjects who often seem to exist in their own realm, as if they have come adrift of conventional space and time.

The exhibition will trace the development of the artist’s style, from her early post graduate work like First, which Boakye created for her MA show, right up to the present day and  

The Tate show will also highlight the central importance of written narratives to the artists work. “I write about the things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about” Boakye has said on the subject.

Indeed, several of her paintings come paired with written pieces and this exhibition will be no exception.

An illustrated catalogue of the show has been produced, wit several pieces by Yiadom Boakye included.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye was born in London in 1977. Her parents were a pair of Ghanaian nurses who had cone to Britain to pursue a career in the profession.  

Young Lynette showed an aptitude for art from an early age and once she was 18 she enrolled in a foundation course at Central Saint Martin’s. Once she had completed the qualification Boakye moved on to do a degree at Falmouth College of Art.

Her early twenties saw the aspiring artist taking a variety of jobs while she continued her painting.

Her big break came when she won an Arts Foundation Award for painting. From that moment on painting became her day job. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that the artist began to gain public recognition for her efforts. This was the year in which Boakye received a nomination for the Turner Prize and although she didn’t win, the impact on her career was profound.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at Tate Modern has been postponed. More information about the artist can be found here.

For information on other great exhibitions in London, please click here.





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What: new exhibition
When: No Record
Where: Tate Britain