‘That emphasis on a strong presence is really important,’ Lynette Yiadom-Boakye says of her figures, ‘and I’m always looking for a strong line, a strong curve or a strong look. They should never appear to shrink away – they are never victims, never passive. I always destroy the work if anyone looks passive’. The life-sized woman in Cemetary is an appropriately intense apparition, facing the viewer with a knowing grin where we might expect an attitude more befitting a state of bereavement. Her brilliant red tights likewise stand in contradiction with her black dress; the ‘cemetery’ setting itself is indicated only by swift, Goya-esque darkness. Working rapidly and without models, Yiadom-Boakye presents compound beings who have no backstory or real-life source but instead allow her to probe the mysteries of how paint translates into people. Made vivid by the artist’s keen eye for sartorial detail and compelling expression, the resulting visions are oblique in import, yet confront us with a gaze of disarming directness. ‘I want the work to be pulled out of the air somehow, to play God and exploit that power of creation in paint’, Yiadom-Boakye has said. Enigmatic and unsettling, Cemetery is a vivid expression of that power.