Contemporary Art (5) – Peter Doig

A friend has challenged me to pick out one artist, whose work will still ‘matter’ in 40 years time. Well, imagine we’ve got 2050; the number alone looks pretty surreal; doesn’t it? The same can surely be said about the quantity of the imagery out there – buzzing, flashing, tempting, repulsive, genius and rubbish… But – what will be there considered as the great ‘classic’ – something that had been created at the turn of the centuries? Will be there any need for the ‘classics’ at all; who knows, maybe the ‘classic’ will actually mean the ‘clutter’ of no other than an abstract, historical value?

Well, we are we?

An artist important for my children’ children, for generations with a different sense of time, space, culture (presumably); with a changed view on the 20th/21st century… That all makes the guessing game a pure shot in the dark really…

I put Peter Doig in the title as a sort of a ‘tease’ and a challenge. I do consider him influential and important now; I would risk stating that his particular vision of painting (notably – changing/being modified all the time) will survive through his own generation of artists – let’s say – 10 more years; as well as I can predict than many of the painters from my ‘class’ will carry Doig’s ‘germs’ with them for some time. Yet – to tell – that P. D.’s impossibly romantic and surprisingly (in comparison  with the majority) well painted magical landscapes will break the price records in 2050? Simply impossible – and – a bit pointless perhaps… Because, why to bother with that in the first place in the era of the flux? Let’s enjoy our present time – future is nothing more than the act of accepting, respecting and giving the foundations to the ‘here and now’…


Peter Doig (b. 1959) – Scottish-born painter, brought up in Canada and art-educated in London. From 2002, living and working in Trinidad (studio at the Caribbean Contemporary Arts centre) .  Professor at the fine arts academy in Duesseldorf, Germany. Considered as one of the most important and influential painters working today.

Doig is both acclaimed and criticized for his paint-handling – carefully layered, with the impressive sensitivity to the colour scale (his landscapes look like there is ‘every colour’ in it; a reason for clapping or doubting?) – his paintings are a triumph of the contemporary painterly technique. Even if his concepts seem for some to be too ‘eerie’ to be true; in moments strangely sweet-ish and naive; he’s managed to capture hearts and imagination of hundreds, both from the ‘professional’ and the ‘spectators” side…

What I find especially compelling about his older (late 1990s – early 2000s) works is their ongoing chase for the uncanny – there is, in some of the landscapes that extremely difficult to create moment, where a beautiful on its own, sophisticated yet ‘just’ – mark-making transforms into magic – the very essence of all art; the moment when you feel you hair raising at the back of your head – because you’ve just spotted and experienced  the unsaid, the inexplicable, the horrific enchanted into a ‘lovely’ scene.
Other thing is – if this all was really meant there to be or ‘came by’ as a ‘happy accident’?

Anyway, and despite of all – Doig is one of those artists who made me to believe in painting again…

To review P. Doig’s recent retrospective at Tate – click the Exhibition.



About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

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