A new case display in the Dutch Gallery presents a selection from new acquisition, First Flight (2015), a set of etchings by British figurative artist, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (b. 1977).
The Black, male heads set against blank backgrounds are not portraits but fictional composites based on collections of found images, such as photographs, and the artist’s own memories and imagination.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s work challenges the restrictive, aggrandizing themes of the European portrait tradition by destabilising sitters’ identities and removing indications of place and time. Instead, her enigmatic, invented heads make room for multiple interpretations and projections.
The questions of representation and memorialisation that are raised by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s work are brought into focus by placing it in dialogue with examples of portraiture, by Anthony van Dyck and Rembrandt van Rijn, from the Fitzwilliam Museum’s remarkable print collection. This display encourages us to ask, “what is history?”; “who should be remembered and how?”
Lead image: Courtesy the Artist, Corvi-Mora, London, and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.