Featured Posts

From Moonlight to Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

June 19, 2017

If you haven't yet visited the Lynette Yiadom-Boakye exhibition at the New Museum you have got to make it happen. It's a small show – warm and entirely enriching. Just head down there on your lunch break, or for half an hour after work – it will absolutely make your day. The exhibition is called Under-Song For A Cipher, a cipher being something secretive, kept on the down-low. Yiadom-Boakye paints a series of black, imagined figures – imagined because none of these people are real, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. 


Cover: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Vigil For A Horseman, 2017. Oil on linen, three parts. Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York 

 

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Vigil For A Horseman, 2017. Oil on linen, three parts. Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Under-Song For A Cipher,” 2017. New Museum, New York. Photo: Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio 

“Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Under-Song For A Cipher,” 2017. New Museum, New York. Photo: Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio 

 

The protagonists of Yiadom-Boakye's exhibition live in her imagination. Viewers are invited to project their own identity onto the mellow, sometimes melancholy subjects, the artist does not force any histories, bold statements, or personal messages onto the audience. Instead she gives us a bunch of people who, by the end of it, we feel somehow close to. 

 

What's magical about these paintings is the same sentiment that made last year's best picture Moonlight so absolutely moving – the capturing of the quiet, vulnerable human spirit that exists in every single person and is transient of race, age, gender or any other traditionally defining label. These figures represent those moments in all of our lives where we feel unsure of ourselves, lonely, happy to be alone, curious, wistful, tired, regretful. And just like the gorgeous cinematography of James Laxton, the colours in Yiadom-Boakye's series have become part of the subjects' stories. 

 

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, 8am Cadiz, 2017. Oil on linen Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York 

(Left) Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, An Amber Cluster, 2017. Oil on linen. Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; (Right) Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Light Of The Lit Wick, 2017. Oil on linen. Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York 

 

More than anything, the most triumphant thing about these works is that they're so beautiful. They're tenderly painted, curiously composed, and entirely inviting. We dare you to go visit this exhibition, then re-watch Moonlight, and not feel like your emotional world is about to explode. 

 

Under-Song for a Cipher is on till September and you can get your tickets here

READ NEXT: Diébédo Francis Kéré's 2017 Serpentine Pavilion

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Follow Think
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon

art, architecture, and design commentary