written by Adrian Searle
Phaidon Press | ISBN 9780714845043
Member’s price: $49.50
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An exploration of the influential artist's mysterious painted worlds.
Whether painting a mysterious bearded figure floating on a flat wash of blue or a winter landscape glimpsed through a thick web of branches, Peter Doig harnesses the materiality of his medium to create what he calls 'abstractions of memories', distilling recollected sensations into moments of pure sentience, like scenes in a series of mysterious narratives. In Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre (2000-2) two costumed figures stand guard at a low stone wall while behind them a reservoir reflects a twinkling starry sky. The young man bundled up against the cold in Blotter (1993) contemplates his reflection in a frozen pond, while in Red Boat (Imaginary Boys) (2004) six men in white shirts navigate upstream through a dense tropical landscape.
Doig's work has been exhibited at the world's top museums, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and has been selected for contemporary art's most important international exhibitions, such as the SITE Santa Fe Biennial (2006), the Tate Triennial (2003 and 2006) and the Venice Biennale (2003). Although his work has had an enormous impact on contemporary painting, paving the way for a whole generation of idiosyncratic figurative painters, his painted worlds are without parallel. Raised in Canada, based in London for two decades and now living in Trinidad, Doig has tallied a wide range of references, not only geographic (from French modernist architecture to the ski slopes of Quebec) but also artistic (from Ernst Kirchner to Philip Guston) and musical (from punk to calypso). Sometimes these references lurk in plain sight – Figure in Mountain Landscape (1997-8) is based on a photograph of Group of Seven painter Franklin Carmichael – but most often they lie deep below the churning surface of the canvas.
Artist: Peter Doig