Tate Etc. invited a selection of contemporary artists featured in the new rehang of British art at Tate Britain to choose a favoured work from a fellow artist – past or present – also on display. Here, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye discusses Walter Richard Sickert’s Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Isabella of France 1932

  • Walter Richard Sickert, 'Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Isabella of France' 1932
    Walter Richard Sickert
    Miss Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Isabella of France 1932
    Oil paint on canvas
    frame: 1173 x 115 mm, 92 kg, 2705 mm
    support: 2451 x 921 mm
    Presented by the Art Fund, the Contemporary Art Society and C. Frank Stoop through the Contemporary Art Society 1932© Tate

I admire Sickert’s ability to describe a lot with very little. His mark-making often appears sparse and rough, graduating the tone from dark to light, working from the darkness at the back of the painting forwards into the light. Brown staining and dull dirty pinks become radiant. The blue-black hollow eyes mirror the blue-black background, turning her face into a mask – an impossibly pallid lead-white facade of a face. Her skin blends in with the colour of the voluminous gown that occupies half of the canvas: a strange, claustrophobic and awkward composition choice. This awkwardness is a regular feature in Sickert’s work. The imperfections and approximations lend his paintings a sense of urgency, and seem to describe the flawed, complex and brutal nature of the world he worked in.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is an artist living and working in London. Her work 10pm Saturday 2012, purchased in 2012, is on display at Tate Britain.