Lynette Yiadom-Boakye calls her works "figurative paintings" instead of "portraits" and emphasizes that they are not meant to be likenesses of specific people. Rather, they originate largely from her imagination as well as a range of collected source material and visual observations. Yet despite their fictional foundations—in fact, perhaps because of them—the figures have the potential to transcend the everyday. As Yiadom-Boakye has said, "Although they are not real I think of them as people known to me. They are imbued with a power of their own; they have a resonance—something emphatic and other-worldly." Her painting The Myriad Motives of Men, for example, portrays two seated black men against a spare background and is rendered in a reduced color palette, preventing the viewer from locating the subjects in a particular time or place.
Gallery label from Unfinished Conversations, March 19-July 30, 2017