Artist of the Week: Peter Doig

We introduce the brilliant painting of the much-travelled artist Peter Doig
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Peter Doig, 100 Years Ago, 2000
Peter Doig, 100 Years Ago, 2000

The artist Peter Doig is fond of canoes. As a child he lived in Trinidad, and then Canada, before moving back to the UK to study Fine Art at Wimbledon and later Chelsea. It was there, in 1990, that he painted "White Canoe" – a canvas sold at Sotheby's more than a decade later for £5.7m, then the largest amount of money ever paid for a painting by a living European artist.

"[That] made me feel sick," he told the Guardian's Tim Adams in 2008, a month before Tate Britain held a retrospective of the artist's work. "I'm talking about nauseous sick, not so much disgusted or anything. That someone should have put their hand in their pocket and spent that much money on a painting of mine seemed so unconnected to anything that I ever did."

Peter Doig, White Canoe, 1990
Peter Doig, White Canoe, 1990

Doig is the antithesis of contemporary artists like Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst – the 53-year-old does not rely on a studio of hard-working assistants to create aesthetically perfect works of art. Instead, he paints by himself in a studio filled with works in progress, ladening canvases with "mistake, after mistake, after mistake," he told Adams, until a finished work appears. 

Most of those finished works feature a canoe, set amid an eerily still body of water. "100 Yeas Ago", a creepy painting  that represents Doig's oeuvre in The Art Book New Edition, is no exception. But why this recurring motif? The answer lies in a nostalgia for home. Doig's paintings reveal the landscapes of his formative years – the tropical surrounds of Trinidad, the monstrous, baron plains of Canada. "His paintings are gestures toward his journey," Adams explains, "though he is more fascinated by the idea of memory than by specific events of his past."

Read more about Peter Doig's painting "100 Years Ago" in The Art Book New Edition, the introduction to art.


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