Increasingly rare in the modern art world, Peter Doig has a delectable childlike wonder – an embrace of vibrant color and a reimagining of the figure that is both retroactive and new. Devoid of pretense, his paintings resonate at first glance. They are somehow innately familiar, like images from subconscious hypnagogic states or splinters of unfiltered imagery that Doig uncovers with his brush. Doig beckons the viewer with his vivid scenes and swathes them in his own desire filled with frenzy and longing. Always melancholic or contemplative, his work speaks volumes to the plights of human experience, slashing through the common scrape of lost time and rendering plebeian life into an imaginative modern fairytale.
Evocative of Miro, Chagall, Bonnard, and at times Penck, Doig surprises the modern viewer with his precipitous and often dazzling palette, washing otherwise routine scenes in the miraculous hues of cinematic illusion. He is visceral in his craft, often combining humility and humor where it seems unfit. In these moments, it is as if he suddenly becomes conscious of himself, of his hand and its role as narrator. He dapples his own strokes of farce – the lapping tongue of a horse, the feather in a lion’s cap, the decided bulge of a horseman’s genitalia – like a signature of fresh cognizance and wit. Doig extracts bathos in such contemporary lucidity, exposing the fragility of human experience in glimpses of the mundane. In short, Doig surfaces man’s travail to the blithe of expression, igniting a wholly familiar response from the viewer and cementing an inextricable bond to the composition itself.
Doig is notable in the discussion of contemporary painting. Departing from the despotic claims of it alleged ‘death’, Doig reaffirms figurative painting as one of the most powerful tools in contemporary art. Fixated with the evocative powers of visual language, his pictorial work combines the history of abstraction with tropes of narrative painting and nods to popular culture. Forever pushing the possibilities of his medium, Doig maintains his prominent place as one of the most ingenious and original artists today.
For a larger selection of Doig’s works, see Michael Werner’s gallery website.