This unusual artist was brought to my attention by one of my lecturers, Steven Rendall, and while I always research artists that my lecturers and peers tell me about regarding my practice, the quote he posted resonated on a level so deeply I had to find out about her. 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.’ ** I couldn’t have put it any better! This is so much what I do in my practice.
Yiadom-Boakye paints beautiful portraits of fictional characters, created from her imagination and found images. These portraits are not set in any particular period in time or place because she wants her audience to interpret the work for themselves. While I also use images from the web for my paintings, I also paint portraits of actual people, some who are known to me and others who are not. I think for me using an image I’ve found on Pinterest or Instagram is a way to protect myself from my auto biographical subject matter in my paintings, but I am keen to paint images from my imagination and have started sketching on Procreate. I have also started altering my images from shoots I have done and models more than before, enlarging eyes and adding different features for example. It’s almost like Yiadom-Boakye has allowed me the freedom to play with that.
While the artist represents much of her ethnicity with her work I like to think I bring in different cultures to play. But let’s face it, there is definitely an under representation of African portraiture and paintings. In an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist in Kaleidoscope, she explained “People are tempted to politicize the fact that I paint black figures, and the complexity of this is an essential part of the work. But my starting point is always the language of painting itself and how that relates to the subject matter.” *. Yiadom-Boakye uses a more earthy palette which lends itself perfectly to her subject, I tend to use either a lot of colour or black and white with a splash of red or gold.
Born in 1977, Yiadom-Boakye is a British writer and painter currently based in London. She is the recipient of the 2018 Carnegie Prize and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2013. She has had many solo shows from the Tate Gallery UK to the Guggenheim Spain and currently has work included in Ghanaian pavilion at the Venice Biennale. A Stella career and artist who inspires my practice with the written word, the titles of her work along with the painting.
I have actually just collated my poetry and prose from the past 5 years into a book. Re-reading and visiting that emotional state during the time of my daughters illness and death has surfaced many emotions and I have slowly started to put pictures to some of the words. Since finding Yiadom-Boakye’s works and hearing how she creates I am inspired to use my imagination much more going forward. As always my art helps me navigate my way through this hellish journey and to heal. It is my catharsis and saviour.