• Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Observer of Spring, 2013

“Observer of Spring” is a painting in which the artist makes a reference to the tragic events of the US Civil War (1861–1865) between the northern and southern states.
One of the main reasons for the conflict was the issue of slavery along with increasing social divisions in political and economic terms. Southerners, the majority of whom were in favour of upholding the practice of slavery, were very conservative and attached to traditional values. In the North, on the other hand, it was liberal and capitalist ideas which prevailed, and the abolitionist movement was born.
Like in many of Boakye’s portraits, the main figure is presented in an ambiguous manner. The hero and the witness of the events from the spring of 1861 is a young girl. With her eyes wide and her mouth open, she turns to look back, staring into the surrounding darkness. The gloomy composition stands in sharp contrast with the hope of transformation, alluded to by the word “spring” in reference to the bloody events which took the lives of several hundred thousand soldiers but which, at the same time, brought liberty to millions of slaves.

Year: 2013
Medium: oil on canvas
Format: 55×50 cm

Acquisition: purchase
Ownership form: collection
Source: Jack Shainman Gallery
Index: MSN:4300-21/2014
Acquisition date:
Financing source: Purchased with the support of Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

See also