Peter Doig’s work creates emblematic aesthetics, depicting exotic, haunting and classical landscapes permeated by a sense of irony and unease that makes it utterly contemporary. Born in 1959, and originally from Scotland, Doig has lived and worked between Canada, Trinidad, Britain, New York and Dusseldorf over the years of building his pioneering figurative practice and career. His atmospheric paintings demonstrate an incredible sensitivity towards materiality. They mix references to photography (often his own photos), cinema, newspaper clippings and painting styles of historical artists such as Edvard Munch and Henri Matisse with the artist’s own subjective impressions.

‘My thinking is always between places. ‘Something I would like to achieve in my paintings is a place in between places.’

After his early years in Trinidad and Canada, which have both continued to serve as key inspirations for his artistic imagery, he moved to London for art school, studying at Wimbledon and Saint Martin’s School of Art, finally completing his MA at Chelsea College in 1990. The paintings from his Degree Show were ‘paintings of quite modest subjects’ such as snowy landscapes and everyday objects. These are the first examples of his later iconic language and homely subject matter and earned him prestigious institutional recognition with the Whitechapel Artists Award in 1991 and the resulting solo exhibition at the gallery. This show featured some of Doig’s most famous works up to this day, such as Iron Hill (1991), Swamped (1990), and The Architect’s Home in the Ravine (1991), which depicts Eberhard Zeidler’s modernist home in Rosedale, Toronto – this painting is most illustrative of Doig’s signature style; with the surface layered with a lattice foliage, he manages to make the flat painting three dimensional and to draw the viewer into its dreamlike universe akin to how an abstract painting might. This unique rediscovery of an interest in texture, space and colour made Doig truly revolutionary at a time when the London art scene was dominated by conceptualist and minimalist work and the YBA’s with Hirst’s 1988 Freeze exhibition. Despite the powerful Zeitgeist of the era, Doig stubbornly stuck to figurative painting and his folkish subjects of ghostly landscapes and houses, his rich palette and style reminiscent of Post-Impressionism and Romanticism with a contemporary edge.

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Peter-Doig
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