Thursday, 3 March 2016

Is Peter Doig Creating an Imaginary Place with his Landscape Paintings and How has this Concept Entered into my Recent Paintings? Notes for Final Piece.

Doig's paintings emerged at a time when conceptual art was at a forefront, the Young British Artists producing work that challenged accepted presidents of art. Doig was far removed from this emerging trend but he wasn't purposely reacting against it with his large scale landscapes.  Gareth Jones in the newly formed Freize magazine in 1992 writes, "Doig, as the cliché commonly runs, has been painting for years and would baulk at the thought of working in such an instrumental manner." 

Jones argues that the landscapes Doig creates are made up from memories and quotes Doig saying they are 'imaginary places' and he calls them 'wildernesses'. Jones associates this to a north American yearning for freedom, where Doig spent many years of his youth.  Jones also cites road movies and states that the style of the painting, when examined, is plain and illustrative. It is clear that the external none mainstream influences upon these early 1990 paintings are important, that on many levels Doig draws in aesthetic elements, some formed through recall of his life experiences but also interprets them in a fantastical way. 

Doig was using a set range of imagery that would be the driving force for his work and a process he would evolve. Not only is it influenced by these imaginary places there is also a relationship to how we may relive these memories through technology. Jones states when talking about Doig's painting Rosedale:

"White dots of falling snow have formed into horizontal bands which further obscure the image, and recall the 'snow' caused by freezing a frame on a videotape."

Are these relationships to video merely coincidental? Or subconscious? When asked about this screen of snow in an interview some years later in 2014 in an Artist Talk with Ulf Kuster At the Beyeler Foundation Doig states:

"I was in Switzerland in Winter and saw A Bruegel painting 'Adoration the Kings in the Snow' and I was interested in the screen of snow. It was like he had painted the painting then added a screen that you look through that suggested it was winter. Yes, I think at that time I was interested in it as an affect (referring to his own paintings) and then I thought that this is getting too easy...I wanted to make a much plainer painting."

Within my own paintings the landscapes that I draw upon are those of the fields I have walked in the recent months. But even now the cycle of nature has changed these and the colours are greener and the subtle purples and greys have disappeared. I am capturing a period of nature within my work, but also a memory of how a land was.

For me this is also becoming more about the physical experience of being in the field and how we can try to experience that through the framing of my paintings. I have come to these fields also through the eyes of a crow, from my previous illustrative studies, and this has added an edge to the view that we are seeing. What is looking at these landscapes I paint? Who's or what's eyes are we seeing through? But the use of film to record these experiences has also created another lenses through which I can interpret the experience and the colours that have been distorted by the camera, followed by the process of printing them out, has then in turn created a different palette as if viewing the field through an alien eye. Much like Doig's snow effect I have appropriated the colours of the print out.

This detachment from the exactness of the original image either through memory or reworking the image through other processes has created what could be called an 'imaginary place' because some of the elements of the work are unrealistic.


JONES, G. (1992) Weird Places, Strange Folk. Frieze Magazine Issue 6, [Online]
KUSTER, U (2014) Artist Talk - Peter Doig in Conversation with Ulf Kuster (Curator, Foundation Beyeler)

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