If recent times have seen a huge uptick in visibility for Black figurative painters, Yiadom-Boakye’s contribution can’t be overstated. The British artist (and writer) now looks like an outrider and ground-preparer of a more egalitarian artworld, as showcased by her recently reopened (after being closed by COVID, and travelling to Moderna Museet, Stockholm, K20 in Düsseldorf and Luxembourg’s Mudam) Tate Britain retrospective, full of ‘portraits’ of Black people who technically don’t exist – but who, through Yiadom-Boakye’s hugely empathetic limning of faces and knowledgeable rooting in European portraiture traditions, absolutely feel like they do. She’s often downplayed race-related readings of her art as ‘easy answers’, saying her process is rooted in painting itself. Viewing her work, experiencing its timeless quality of encounter and connection with others, that makes sense: Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings speak to the moment (and are inspirations to everyone from musician Solange to writers such as Caleb Azumah Nelson), yes, but they also feel built for the ages.
Most influential people in 2022 in the contemporary artworld
Artist - Looked to for her singular approach to portraiture
58 in 2022