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Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (b. 1977)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (b. 1977)

Diplomacy II

Details
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (b. 1977)
Diplomacy II
signed, titled and dated 'Diplomacy 2 Lynette 2009' (on the reverse)
oil on linen
74 7/8 x 98½in. (190 x 250cm.)
Painted in 2009
Provenance
Faye Fleming & Partner, Geneva.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009.
Exhibited
Geneva, Faye Fleming & Partner, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Manifesto, 2009.
London, Saatchi Gallery, Newspeak: British Art Now from the Saatchi Gallery, London, 2010 (illustrated in colour, pp. 41-42).
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buyer's premium

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Lot Essay

'I always loved figurative painting and I've always wondered what that power was that I kept coming back to and I realized it was less about individuals than about how they had been pictorially constructed. What was it about their eyes? How was that achieved through this painting?'
L.Y.-Boayke, quoted in J. Higgie, 'A Life in a Day: The Fictitious Portraits of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye', in Frieze, issue 146, April 2012, http:/www.frieze.com/issue/article/a-life-in-a-day/, [accessed 29 August 2013]).




London-based and of Ghanaian heritage, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a graduate from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London and the Royal Academy, London. Boakye's works depicting portraits of characters from her own imagination are exhibited in the Encyclopedic Palace at the Venice Biennale this year and she has been short-listed for the 2013 Turner Prize. Her work is held in international collections including Miami Art Museum, Florida, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, Royal Academy of Arts, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Tate London.

In Diplomacy II, fourteen figures materialise from a velvety twilight backdrop; their ambiguous surroundings and dress giving no indication of time or place. Punctuating the scene are flashes of white: the hat of one, the shirts of others, anchored by a single figure in lead white, whose back is turned. Who are these people? Where do they come from? Why are they here? These are all questions elicited by Boakye's expansive canvas of 2009, Diplomacy II. While the artist strives for this haunting narrative tension, she believes that 'what [we] should be asking is 'What are they?'' (L.Y.-Boakye, quoted in C. Bollen, 'Lynette Yiadom-Boakye', in Interview, October 2012, http:/www.interviewmagazine.com/art/london-lynette-yiadom-boakye, [accessed 29 August 2013]).

In Diplomacy II, Yiadom-Boakye deftly applies ebonies, mahoganies and sables, into a rich palette which becomes a tapestry of depth and intensity. Working in quick, unrestrained brushstrokes, the artist builds her complex composition of layered colour upon the surface of the canvas a giornata, or in a day in the same tradition as the great Renaissance frescos, in order to retain 'something in the quality of the mark and in my own mind' (L.Y.-Boakye, quoted in 'Biennale Arte 2013 - Lynette Yiadom-Boakye', 11 June 2013, http:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_2T_DOGeQQ, [accessed 29 August 2013]). In Diplomacy II, Yiadom-Boakye has relished the large format of her canvas, her broad swathes of colour giving the figures an intense presence. From here her figures emerge from the half-light of shadows, their eyes acting as beacons, challenging the viewer with their steadfast gaze. The artist achieves realism while maintaining the integrity of the paint and brushstroke by relying on the visual language of colour and the tactility of paint to weave fictions that appeal in their open-ended narrative. Indeed Yiadom-Boakye's scenes are not derived from real-life or history but are pieced together in her mind's eye from a host of sources, both real and imagined. While this work draws inspiration from a photograph of a political delegation, Yiadom-Boakye works form a diverse range of source imagery, including her imagination. Without the aid of models or preparatory sketches, the artist wields her paintbrush with a fluency and freedom that leaves an elegance in the resulting paint strokes. The resulting image is haunting in its simultaneous proximity to scenes from daily life while also maintaining a psychological distance that compels the viewer.

Drawing on the traditions of European portraiture, Yiadom-Boakye's work does not aim to present us with an individual, but instead to cloak us in a pervasive mood that emits from the surface itself. 'I always loved figurative painting and I've always wondered what that power was that I kept coming back to and I realized it was less about individuals than about how they had been pictorially constructed. What was it about their eyes? How was that achieved through this painting?' (L.Y.-Boayke, quoted in J. Higgie, 'A Life in a Day: The Fictitious Portraits of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye', in Frieze, issue 146, April 2012, http:/www.frieze.com/issue/article/a-life-in-a-day/, [accessed 29 August 2013]). Yiadom-Boakye's imagery simultaneously recalls the work of the great Modernist, Edouard Manet, while taking on the monochromatic lessons of the great Post-War Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko. Yiadom-Boakye approaches her work with a similar value system in mind of an Abstract Expressionist - building her composition according to colour and form. It is from the building up of these formal elements that the emergence of her figures takes their cue. 'Boayke notes, each time I have a particular goal for that work. Whether it's something to do with colour or light or form in some way...[I] build each painting out of colours... it almost becomes scientific in that way that there's this balancing of different colours' (L.Y.-Boakye, quoted in 'Biennale Arte 2013 - Lynette Yiadom-Boakye', 11 June 2013, http:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_2T_DOGeQQ, [accessed 29 August 2013]).

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