(Updated Sept. 16, 2019)
The exhibition of paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, on view Jan. 25–May 11, 2020, is second in a trilogy of shows on contemporary female British artists curated by The New Yorker magazine critic Hilton Als
“Celia Paul” launched the series in 2019. The final installment will be “Njideka Akunyili Crosby” (Spring 2021)
Exhibitions originate at the Yale Center for British Art
SAN MARINO, Calif.—Recent paintings by contemporary British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye will be on view Jan. 25–May 11, 2020, at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. "The Hilton Als Series: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye," is curated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hilton Als, staff writer and theater critic for The New Yorker magazine, and associate professor of writing at Columbia University. This presentation is the second in a trilogy of exhibitions at The Huntington that originated at the Yale Center for British Art. The first exhibition, on view at The Huntington in early 2019, focused on the work of Celia Paul, and the final installment in 2021 will highlight the work of Los Angeles-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby.
“The uncanny mix of informality and mystery in Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s ‘non-portrait’ figural paintings creates a fascinating dialogue with The Huntington’s collection of highly formal, 18th-century British portraits of white, upper-class figures,” said Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art at The Huntington. “The juxtaposition of her work will help expand the story that we tell around British art and the traditions of figural representation across centuries.”
The installation at The Huntington features five works selected by Als in collaboration with the artist and focuses on recent paintings that are portrait-like studies of fictional characters. Drawn from the world of found images and imagination, Yiadom-Boakye's figures seem familiar but also mysterious. She typically finishes each painting in a single day, infusing the works with freshness and spontaneity, as if they were painted from life.
"Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is among the most important artists working in Britain today," said Matthew Hargraves, chief curator of art collections at the Yale Center for British Art. "The selection of these works, all on loan from generous private collectors, offers an opportunity to see her powerful representations of imaginary people of color shown in action and contemplation.”
The paintings’ titles pull from the artist’s own poetry and contribute to the sense that these scenes are, in the end, unknowable. In both The Needs Beyond (2013) and Greenhouse Fantasies (2014), men look directly and enigmatically at the viewer. Viewers are left wondering who exactly these individuals are and what their stories may be.
Yiadom-Boakye was born in 1977 in London, where she lives and works today. She attended Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Falmouth College of Arts, and the Royal Academy Schools. She has had several solo museum shows, most recently at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2017); the Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2016); the Haus der Kunst, Munich (2015); and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2015). She was included in the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA): “A Story Within a Story,” at the Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg, Sweden (2015) and the British Art Show 8, traveling to four venues between 2015 and 2017.
Her work is included in many public collections including the Tate Collection, London; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Miami Art Museum; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Arts Council Collection, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, NC; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C.
Yiadom-Boakye was the 2012 recipient of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Art Prize, which was accompanied by a solo exhibition of her work. She was short-listed for the 2013 Turner Prize, and Prestel has published a monograph of her work. She has been represented by Jack Shainman Gallery since 2010.
“The Hilton Als Series: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye” is organized by the Yale Center for British Art where it will be on view from Sept. 12 through Dec. 15, 2019. It will be on view at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA, from Jan. 25 through May 11, 2020. The exhibition’s presentation at The Huntington is made possible by generous support from Laura and Carlton Seaver and the LLWW Foundation.
Hilton Als will present a lecture at The Huntington on Yiadom-Boakye’s work in context of the exhibition on March 17, 2020. Visit huntington.org for more details closer to the event.
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