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Peter Doig: Master of Landscape
A closer look 26 Jan 2015

Peter Doig: Master of Landscape

Peter Doig is a Scottish painter born in 1959. He grew up between Trinidad and Canada. However, he did not return to the UK until he was 20, to study at the Wimbledon School of Art. Fascinated by the subject, he continued his studies at Saint Martin’s School of Arts. He became famous at the beginning of the 1990s with his exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery. Peter Doig is currently represented by the Victoria Miro Gallery. His success has occurred at the same time as new awareness emerged regarding figurative painting with renewed interest in traditional portrait and landscape.

tableau de Peter Doig Grande Riviere, 2001-2002
Grande Riviere, oil on canvas, 2001-2002

Even in the early years of his career, his painting was essentially large-format paintings. The palette of colors used by Doig is unusual, ranging from hues of pink to orange and dark blue. The characters seem lost in the midst of a nature that is well out of control. These compositions remind one of the German Romantics, Edward Munch, Symbolism, and Edward Hopper.

His snowy landscapes and starry romantic forests and trees are not realistic landscapes of outdoor paintings. There is an absence of descriptive execution in these landscapes. His visions are often downed by the thickness of night and foggy halos of light.
His work expresses the inadequacy of contemporary man isolated and lost in the face of this wonderful nature.

Peter Doig, Canoe Lake, oil on canvas 1997
Canoe Lake, oil on canvas , 1997, Yageo Foundation, Taiwan

Peter Doig’s work is infused with an enchanted environment, capturing timeless moments of ideal tranquility. Inspired by his childhood in Canada, Peter Doig’s canoes have become emblematic of his work. Reflected in water like a dual life, a third dimension, the canoe is seen mirrored in a magical and mystical way. “Canoe” is one of his most representative paintings. In this painting, he expresses the beauty and serenity of a quiet lake. He illustrates the green ripples of the water to perfection but also the warm thickness of summer night.

Peter Doig, Orange Sunshine, oil on canvas 1995-1996
Orange Sunshine, oil on canvas, 1995-1996

The snowboarder’s contemporary figure, seems out of place in this landscape with its impressionistic sky and curves. Doig masters this painterly effect creating an atmosphere of a kind of fourth dimension by way of the stifling calm and the humidity of rippling snow. Here the painter has caught a certain feeling of nostalgia that could never be captured by a photographer. The physical perception of his paintings transforms these generic memories into something more ardent and desirable than those of the viewer.

Peter Doig, The Architect’s home in the ravine, oil on canvas, 1991
The Architect’s home in the ravine, oil on canvas, 1991

Totally visible but physically inaccessible, Peter Doig places Architect’s Home in the Ravine in a woody landscape as dense as a half-finished Jackson Pollock painting. It is a menacing scene reminiscent of Edward Hopper or Andrew Wyeth paintings at the same time. Despite the luxuriant green forest and the surprising architecture of the house, it is the branches flowing across the canvas that catch the viewer’s eye. Peter Doig has reinvented the hierarchy of the image and the manner in which it may be apprehended.

More paintings by Peter Doig

Peter Doig, Grasshopper, oil on canvas
Grasshopper, oil on canvas, 1990
Peter Doig, White Canoe,oil on canvas, 1990-1991
White Canoe, oil on canvas, 1990-1991
Peter Doig, Pond Life, oil on canvas
Pond Life, oil on canvas, 1993

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