Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Peter Doig – Open to All

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.” 
 Robert Louis Stevenson 

For his first major exhibition in the land of his birth, Scotland, painter Peter Doig chose part of the Scottish writers quote above as its title “No Foreign lands.” Apart from having a back story that could have been a plot device for a Stevenson novel, Doig’s art expresses the interested detachment of the outsider.

Whilst still in nappies his family moved to the tropical island of Trinidad, they then relocated to Canada where he spent his teenage years. After a stint in the Canadian west Doig moved to London to study art and with his own family, in 2002, he returned to Trinidad. The quintessential nomad, Doig teaches regularly in Dusseldorf and had a studio in New York.

Living in Trinidad sees him erroneously compared to the French post-impressionist artist Paul Gauguin, but unlike Gauguin, Doig resisted going native. Whilst his 2006 painting Paragon uses a Gauguin style palette its subject matter of a game of cricket gives it a British overtone. Artists like Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch and Edward Hooper along with the contemporary ephemera of film, photography and magazines are what inform his work.

Growing up in the turmoil of a world changing from colonialism to global capitalism Doig has managed to stand outside the fray. But he does admit, tentatively, to feeling most at home in London and it is this sense of a calm detachment that makes his work so accessible.

For Doig’s paintings are non judgmental, they are open and welcoming to what the visitor may care to bring. Whatever that may be the narrative and the painterly quality of the work ensure that a broad church can be accommodated.

An exhibition of his paintings along with a mural are on display until the 22 of March 2015 at Foundation Bayeler in Basel Switzerland. 

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