Edinburgh born Peter Doig spent his childhood growing up in Trinidad and Canada before coming back to the UK in 1979. He then attended both Wimbledon School of Art and St Martin’s School of Art before going on to study for his MA at Chelsea School of Art in London. He returned to Trinidad in 2002 where he now continues to live and work.
He established a reputation as an artist whose oeuvre consists almost exclusively of landscapes, but he is a landscape painter only in a very altered sense of the classification. He has always resisted association with the landscape tradition and his work is not concerned with the rigid conventions of a genre. The landscapes he represents are images hovering between memory and imagination, triggered by photographic or cinematic sources chanced upon during urban existence or from the repertoire of personal memories of the landscapes of his childhood. These are essentially artificial images that use a curious range of colours and light effects, inconsistent perspectives and a fusion of pictorial conventions and techniques. Amidst the snow-covered slopes, by a pond or a lake, forest or swamp, figures can be discerned but they appear only to fulfil some formal function in the composition. What narrative these figures form part of is unclear. Modernist buildings or cabin style houses are glimpsed through gaps in trees but their function in this location is equally uncertain.
Doig evokes the landscape of his childhood. On big canvases, he replays the vast landscape of Canada, using not only his own bank of memories, but also the viewer’s own conceptions of that landscape and shared memories of place. The broad panorama is reminiscent of cinema film and its scope. The artist has acknowledged the effect of film sequences on his work. He has described one of his paintings as “a rendering from a photo found in National Geographic that served as a reminder of a place near where I lived in Quebec as a youngster. It is a fairly fictitious view of a memory”.
The ten etchings shown in this exhibition derive from Doig’s own paintings from the period 1992 to early 1995. The artist describes the process as “a way of cataloguing some of the work I have made over the previous years”. While all the etchings originate from the paintings, the paintings in turn originate from photographs, mostly taken by the artist. All but three prints relate to his childhood home of Canada. The two works entitled Concrete Cabin refer to Le Cobusier's Unité d'habitation in North East France.
Untitled (Green) (1998) is one of a number of oil on paper studies made by Doig, the inspiration of which is said to have partially come from the concluding moments of the Sean Cunningham horror film Friday the 13th.
Doig has had a major retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain, 2008 which toured to Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris and Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Other solo shows include Dallas Museum of Art, 2005; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, 2004; Bonnenfanten Museum, Maastricht, 2003 and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1998. Doig was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1994.