Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a fascinating contemporary artist. She’s also very prolific, which is apparent at the new show of her work at Tate Britain. Painted from her imagination, this collection of figurative works gives a satisfying insight into her creative process.

This enigmatic artist paints portraits which look so directly at the viewer that you stand in the gallery basking in the scrutiny and wondering about the process and time spent creating the image. It’s quite rare to find a contemporary artist who is so committed to figurative work and I find that a delight. But what’s so intriguing about these paintings is that, apparently, they are not made from life (though I may be wrong). Lynette Yiadom-Boakye uses a variety of reference material to conjure impressions of people who occupy her imagination.

Looking closely at the work, many of which are on a large scale, she clearly uses brightly coloured grounds beneath the oil paintings. There’s a great strength and vigour to be seen in paintings which don’t cover the canvas totally with paint but lets the bright light of the original surface leak through into the finished work. That takes confidence.

But oh, what a relief and joy it is to be able to return to the newly opened galleries after November’s lockdown. It’s only when we’re deprived of art that we realise how keenly we crave it.

Fly in League with the Night is on show until 9 May 2021

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