Fly In League With The Night is the largest survey to date of the work of British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (b. 1977, London). The exhibition presents 67 paintings spanning two decades. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye makes figurative paintings drawn from a variety of source material. Her figures inhabit deliberately enigmatic settings that are timeless and often abstract. Working in oil paint on canvas or coarse linen, she has developed a language of painting that is uniquely her own.
Fly In League With The Night is the first exhibition to celebrate Yiadom-Boakye’s work in depth. It spans work that she made as a student at London’s Royal Academy Schools up to her most recent paintings made in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. Yiadom-Boakye has been closely involved in the selection and arrangement of her work. The exhibition evolves according to the dynamics and conversations between paintings, without a strict chronology. ‘I wanted to think about a dialogue between the works, much the way I do when they’re in the studio, and also to consider the sequence or rhythm as you move through the galleries’ the artist explains.
The figures in Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings seem both familiar and mysterious. Each painting is made from a composite archive of found images supplemented by her own imagination, rendered in expressive, short brushstrokes and a distinctive palette of dark, dramatic tones. By stripping away the signifiers of any particular era, her figures appear to exist outside of a specific time or place remaining open to different narratives, memories and interpretations.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is both a painter and a writer of prose and poetry. For her, the two forms of creativity are separate but intertwined. ‘I write about the things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about,’ she has said. She refers to her paintings’ evocative titles as ‘an extra brush-mark’. They are integral to each work but are not an explanation or description. The exhibition’s title is from a poem by the artist, written especially for this occasion.
The exhibition Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Fly In League With The Night is organised by Tate Britain in collaboration with Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, and Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye was born in 1977 in London, where she lives and works today. She is of Ghanaian descent and in 2019 participated in the critically acclaimed Ghana Freedom pavillion at the Venice Biennale. In 2018 she was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Internatioal Prize and and in 2013 she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. Her work is represented in museum collections around the world and she has exhibited internationally including solo exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2017); the Kunsthalle Basel (2016); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2015); and the Serpentine Galleries, London (2015).