'Mature love poetry', Lynette Boakye

Full-length portrait painting of a seated woman

Oil and acrylic on canvas, 162.5 x 213 cm

I’ve been working on a series of portraits. None of them is of existing people, but they are familiar. My roll call is growing and it contains some of my favourite characters. They include grammy winners (gracious in acceptance of awards), revolutionaries, fanatics, anthropologists and missionaries (good for showing us how to live), savages (good for showing us how far we have come and how not to live), radicals and the generally angry, amongst others.

The most recent paintings have alluded to the European portrait tradition. The medium is relevant; its history, definitions and physicality.

I like the decadence of oil paint. I like decadence in general.

I do think about otherness. The paintings are not concerned with celebrating it. Otherness is not especially beautiful or beguiling in itself. The beauty I like to think about is not gentle. But I would like to move people, to tears or otherwise. In the paintings, all eyes are on the audience.

Mature love poetry is not so much about sex (although sex is not yet impossible) as it is about firmness, elasticity and good strong teeth.

The poetry is in grammy-award winning songs. I wanted to paint the person that soul singers have written love poetry for, or the type that missionaries would like to teach.


Lynette Boakye was born in London in 1977. She studied at Central St. Martin’s School of Art 1996-97, Falmouth College of Art 1997-2000 and the Royal Academy Schools 2000-3. Her exhibitions have included Blackout Brixton Art Gallery 2001, Red Mansion Prize London Institute Gallery London 2002, Work Ethic Gone Tomorrow Gallery at Euroart London 2003, 5 Young Painters Artspace Gallery London 2004 and the solo exhibition How to live Prowler Project Space London 2004.