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A trip into Peter Doig's elegantly reimagined world

Peter Doig’s paintings have an incredible tendency to disorientate us, taking the familiar and recognisable world and elegantly rearranging it.

Drawing on personal memories from his early life in Canada, his time in Trinidad and imagery sourced from photographs and films, Doig builds dreamlike compositions in oil which exist in a timeless fantastical space; a space which feels both personally nostalgic and universal. Doig’s traditional approach to mark making and fantastical subject matter have cemented him in the 21st-century art consciousness. He has been praised by Art critic Jonathan Jones for being a “jewel of genuine imagination, sincere work and humble creativity”.

 

Peter Doig, Echo Lake, 1998

Although many of Doig’s paintings are semi-abstract landscapes, it would make no sense to call him a landscape artist. His landscapes, which are layered formally and conceptually taking inspiration from photographs, newspaper clippings, record covers and postcards present worlds that have never previously existed. These endlessly fascinating worlds,  much like the worlds created in the works of early 20th century metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico, are inhabited by a cast of anonymous outcasts. Doig refers to his use of photographs and postcards as painting “by proxy” and has noted that his paintings “made no attempt to reflect setting”. Large gestural brush marks are generally absent from Doig’s painting style, he instead blots and pools colours on to canvases over which he adds pinpoints of detail – dazzling stars, fireflies and lamps.

Peter Doig, Spearfishing, 2013

 Born in Edinburgh in 1959, Peter Doig spent his formative years between Trinidad and Canada before moving to London in the late 1980s to study at the Wimbledon College of Art, Saint Martin’s School of Art and the Chelsea School of Art, where he received an MA in Painting. Doig was invited to Trinidad to do an art residency with a friend and fellow painter Chris Ofili in 2002, and has lived and worked there ever since. In 1993, Doig won the first prize at the John Moores exhibition for his painting Blotter. This brought Doig public recognition which was cemented in 1994 when he was nominated for the Turner Prize. In the same year he received the Prix Eliette von Karajan and from 1995 to 2000 he was a trustee of the Tate Gallery. Recent major solo exhibitions of the artist’s work have been held at major institutions including the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, touring to The Gallery at Windsor, Florida, and Art Gallery of Ontario (2005 - 2006), the Tate Britain, London, touring to Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2008) and the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa - Palazzetto Tito, Venice (2015). In 2007, a painting of Doig's, entitled White Canoe, sold at Sotheby's for $11.3 million, then an auction record for a living European artist. Paul Schimmel, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles said in an interview that the sale made Doig go from being "a hero to other painters to a poster child of the excesses of the market." In February 2013, his painting, The Architect's Home in the Ravine, sold for $12 million at a London auction, making him one of the most successful living artists in Europe.

 Peter Doig, Road House, 1991 

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