Sunday, January 26, 2014

Peter Doig at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Red Boat (Imaginary Boys) 

"Mr. Doig's canvases are unabashedly beautiful, a trait often viewed with suspicion in the contemporary art world but for which he makes no apologies. " - The New York Times

No Foreign Lands is a remarkable show of the work of the celebrated painter Peter Doig. The show is limited to his output since 2002, when he chose to return to Trinidad, where he had spent his early childhood. Born in Edinburgh in 1959, Doig spent his formative years in Montreal, with his art training mostly in England. The title of the show is taken from the quote by Robert Louis Stevenson, "There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign."
One Hundred Years Ago

Most of the paintings in the exhibit are large oils on canvas or linen. Doig has a wonderful way with colour, and it is not difficult to see the influence of Matisse and Gauguin in his work.  There are also nods to Canadian Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven: note the red canoe in the landscape at right, and its title. His work is very "painterly", with lovely transparencies and the seemingly serendipitous flow of pigment, including the trademark drips of thinly applied paint.

Man Dressed as Bat
Doig has said, "I never really understood what was so conceptual about conceptual art, anyway - all painting, pretty much, is conceptual. I mean, every painting is an idea. Every painting is the result of a process. Conceptual art just removes the pleasures of looking - colour and beauty, things like that."

The show includes many preparatory drawings and sketches, which help the viewer to understand Doig's process. He is omnivorous and idiosyncratic in his borrowing of motifs and images, many of which appear repeatedly. Another signature feature in many of his paintings is the use of horizontal bands of colour.

Previously shown in Edinburgh, Montreal is the only North American venue for No Foreign Lands. The exhibit continues until May 4.

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