Ratik Asokan reviews Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s recent exhibition Under-Song For A Cipher at the New Museum, New York.
Asokan observes: “For a portraitist, it’s a strange approach. But perhaps we aren’t dealing with portraiture. Abstract painting, as defined by Octavio Paz, ‘suggests contemplation to us—not of what it shows but of a presence which the colors and forms evoke without ever entirely revealing: a presence that is in fact invisible. [It] is a language which cannot say, except by omission and allusion: the picture presents us with the signs of absence.’
Yiadom-Boakye’s figures should be understood in this context. Like longed-for lovers, they are the goal of her work; she yearns for them through her paint, through contrast, color, and luster. Likewise, since their physical existence has been denied, she makes its fictiveness everywhere apparent.”