Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Discussing Peter Doig’s Source Material for his Early Painting - Part 2

(Source: Scott, K 2007, ‘In conversation with Peter Doig’, in Doig, P., 1959, Searle, A., Scott, K. & Grenier, C. 2007, Peter Doig, Phaidon Press, London; New York, N.Y.)

Part 2

Doig talks about how he changed the handling of paint. From about the year 2000 Doig employs a lighter fluid technique when applying his paint moving away from a thicker more impasto use of paint. "I don't want to become known as someone who paints thick paintings. I want to be less constructed by what I have become known for and see if the subject can still come through with a very light treatment, rather than a kind of heaviness." He says he gets annoyed with people citing him for one style, that being a painter of thick paint. In a way he's highlighting how he was influenced by people’s opinions and this affected his painting style, or guided it. Maybe this was a way of him breaking away or form an excuse to move on?

Doig talks about his experience and reasons for moving to Port of Spain, Trinidad. "I guess I was looking for something else. I suppose that's why I left Canada and went to London." He had been invited to be an artist in residence in Trinidad and when it was up and he returned to England he said, "I found the paintings I made, even if the subjects were not exclusively about Trinidad, contained elements of being there." Is there a deeper reason here?

Doing makes reference to the fact that he lived in Trinidad as a young boy for about five years. For him it is apparent that his memories of that time enrich the new memories that he had when he arrived in Trinidad in 2002. It's also evident that this is important to him as he projects the desire to relive those memories onto his children as he says, "I had the opportunity to live here as a child and wanted my own children to have the same experience.” For me this emphasises the important role that memory is playing in the formation of the imagery for Doig’s paintings. Is this imaginary place a reworking of an environment, that he picks for his paintings, influenced by a subconscious childhood point of view projected forward from his youth. Are some of the effects he applies to photographs he works from the embodiment of a blurred perspective on childhood?

Doig’s father was an aspirational painter and painted an image called the Rum Factory, coincidentally the location where Doig now has his studio. This painting had been on the wall of his parents’ house and showed a tall silo like structure that was part of the compound. Doig later researched this building and found images of it in old photographs. This compounds Doig’s interest in the role of photography as a visual source for his workor curiosity and, even though he may not have painted this building, there is a link between memory, archive and the present, aspects which can be seen in many of the Doig's other paintings. his father had also collected paintings by Trinidadian artists and they have been on the walls while he was in Canada as a teenager. It's evident that Doig had a multicultural environment through his childhood and his father facilitated an interest in how cultures are visually interpreted by putting this collection together and exposing the young boy to their influence.

Although it seems straightforward enough to attach Trinidad to all of Doig’s tropical imagery he openly admits that he sourced old material in London saying when talking about some of the paintings he did in London during that period, "A lot of the recent paintings were based on postcards I found in a junk shop in London, mostly uncaptioned pictures of southern India. They could, however, pass for Trinidad. "

Doig’s examples of influence are taken further. When talking about the painting Lapeyrouse Wall he explains about combining two photographs from completely different sources and then, "I had just seen the film Tokyo Story (1953) by Ozu and had been struck by its measured stillness, I wanted to make a painting that captured that. " Again Doig is trying to capture something that isn't visual, a sensation or feeling, but one he has experienced personally demonstrating again that he can freely be inspired by a range of sources including film. It stresses that he is very interested in the sense of the moment, or happening which potentially places you in his painting.

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