‘She drunkenly asked me to do her a rudeness’: painting’s most baffling titles
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s beguiling works have titles like Tie the Temptress to the Trojan and Alabaster for Infidels. So what if they don’t connect with what she paints – she’s hardly art’s first blabbermouth …
Two girls are playing on the beach. One is dipping her foot into a black pool of water left by an ebbing grey sea. Both are turned away from us, absorbed, as so many of ’s subjects are, in thoughts to which viewers are not privy. I can’t help but project what I know of Yiadom-Boakye on to the picture, not least that she studied painting in Falmouth, so, this chilly study in greys, blacks and browns, is probably inspired by Cornish beaches.
I look to the title for guidance: Condor and the Mole. What can that mean? Perhaps the toe-dipper is the condor – she’s flinging her arms out balletically as if she were a broad-winged bird poised to take flight and her friend – is what? – an earthbound mole? But surely she isn’t a mole – there’s nothing subterranean about her at all; in her orange skirt and white top, she’s the light that disrupts the darkling colour scheme. Or perhaps I’ve got this all wrong: maybe the mole is the pool of water, rising to the surface, touching the condor girl’s toe as God’s finger touched Adam’s in Michelangelo’s famed work. And that leads me on to madder thoughts: maybe condor girl has struck oil in Cornwall and Jeremy Hunt needn’t worry about reducing the government debt.