The Scottish National Gallery presents the first major Scottish public gallery exhibition of the work of Peter Doig (b. Edinburgh 1959), one of the most renowned painters working today. Throughout a career of three decades, Doig has reinvigorated a medium considered by many to have fallen into irrelevance. His inventive style, uncommonly sensuous palette and suggestive imagery set him apart from the conceptualism dominating much of contemporary art.
Doig’s willingness to take up the challenges posed by the work of Gauguin, Matisse, Bonnard, Marsden Hartley and Edward Hopper places him in an ongoing dialogue with a long line of great artists. Over the period covered by this exhibition Doig has split his time between Trinidad, London and Düsseldorf. His peripatetic life and memories of growing up in Canada (he left Edinburgh as a small child) and studying and living in London for 20 years have given him a particularly rich visual knowledge, that cross fertilizes his works, wherever the motifs are taken from. As fellow Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote in The Silverado Squatters: ‘There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.’ Although Doig may travel a lot, he is no foreigner seeking out the exotic. Rather his eye spots that significant detail which transcends locale and spans both time and space.
Peter Doig, commented:’I left Scotland as a child as many of my generation did; however I know Edinburgh, the city where I was born, through many visits as a child and youth. To be able to exhibit my paintings in the magnificent rooms of the National Galleries is a great great honour.’
Simon Groom, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art said: ‘Peter Doig has been one of the most consistently inventive and seductive painters working anywhere in the world today. His art is figurative and often based on photographic images, but the end effect is to take us into a completely different world of often hallucinatory power. The works reveal a transforming vision of the world, steeped in a sense of beauty and mystery, rich in their imaginative suggestion yet remaining grounded in the real.’
Doig first came to prominence in the 1990s with his paintings of winter landscapes, highly atmospheric scenes of lakes (often with a lone canoe), and houses screened by trees and ski slopes. The rich and layered surfaces of his paintings showed that Doig was as much interested in abstract, formal qualities as he was in subject matter.
Over the period covered by this exhibition Doig has split his time between a house and studio in Trinidad, a studio in London and a professorship at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. His peripatetic life, memories of a childhood partly spent in Canada and his later life and studies in London have given him a particularly rich visual knowledge. Regardless of where Doig’s motifs originate, his experiences cross-fertilize and enhance his works. As fellow Scot Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in The Silverado Squatters: There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign. Doig the traveller is not merely a foreigner seeking out the exotic; rather, he is like Baudelaire’s flâneur, whose eye uncovers and finds significance in details which transcend locale, while spanning both time and space.
No Foreign Lands surveys the paintings and works on paper that Doig has created during the past 10 years, with a particular emphasis on the artist’s approach to serial motifs and recurring imagery. These works are exotic in their subject matter, formally spare and monumental at the same time, and show Doig working at the height of his extraordinary powers.
Peter Doig 3rd August − 3rd November 2013 Academy (Scottish National Gallery)
Part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, 1 August – 1 September 2013