Edinburgh Art Festival 2013: Peter Doig at Scottish National Gallery

By Sarah Jackson | 13 August 2013

Exhibition Preview: No Foreign Lands: Peter Doig, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, until November 3 2013

Peter Doig, House of Pictures (Carrera) (2004)
Peter Doig, House of Pictures (Carrera) (2004)© Courtsey of private collection
Despite a successfully and highly influential career spanning 30 years, Peter Doig has never had a major exhibition of his work in his hometown of Edinburgh - until now.

Yet calling this retrospective of works made in the last ten years a homecoming doesn’t quite seem right, for Doig has never been an artist rooted in one place.

The title of No Foreign Lands comes from fellow Scot Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote in his book The Silverado Squatters: “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign”. Doig has been a traveller long enough to perhaps recognise the truth in this statement.

His childhood was spent in Trinidad and Canada before moving to London as a young man to study art. This wanderlust continued throughout his life; during the period covered by this exhibition, he split his time between his house and studio in Trinidad, a studio in London and a professorship at the Dusseldorf Art Academy.

Doig’s roving life, particularly as a child, has helped him develop rich visuals, particularly landscapes, although they are somewhat abstract. His previous work harked back to his childhood in Canada: winter landscapes, atmospheric lake scenes often accompanied with a lone canoe and houses hidden amongst trees and ski slopes.

Although he uses photographs as references, Doig’s landscapes are not paticularly realistic, nor are they intended to represent a particular setting. They become dreamlike; a memory barely remembered rather than a ‘true’ representation.

Trinidad’s landscapes are the focus of this retrospective, with paintings that evoke the heat and dampness of the air and the lushness of vegetation, a world away from Scotland or Canada. Doig’s work during this time has evolved to become even more abstract and atmospheric than ever.

There are traces of some of his influences, in particular Matisse and Gauguin, but these great canvases set him apart from other contemporary artists. Far from conceptual, they evoke the hot and hazy brightness of Trinidad in a way that perhaps no one else could.


Follow Sarah Jackson on Twitter @SazzyJackson.


More pictures:

Peter Doig, Grande Riviere (2001-2002)
Peter Doig, Grande Riviere (2001-2002)© National Gallery of Canada
Peter Doig, Music of the Future (2002-2007)
Music of the Future (2002-2007)© Louisiana Museum for Modern Art
Peter Doig, 10 Years Ago (2001)
10 Years Ago (2001)© Centre Pompidou, Paris
Peter Doig, Man Dressed as Bat (2007)
Man Dressed as Bat (2007)© Courtesy of a private collection
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