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come up and see my etchings

Posted in Art in the world by Adele Todd on September 14, 2008

Peter Doig at the Tate, London

The Bookmann recently sent me a video short of Peter Doig being interviewed at The Tate for a show he had there. It is a pleasure to see his work in that space, before the actual show. To watch him talk about his process and to show his etchings. One gets an insight into the quiet, thoughtful man that he is.

His work is extremely evolved and you can see why Che Lovelace, the Trinidadian artist who worked with him at his studio club, would be so very influenced by Doig’s painting style. Doig paints large and commands paint in a way that makes it an event, and you can see Mr. Lovelace’s homage at a trendy bar in Woodbrook, Trinidad.

Che Lovelace’s painting at Corner Bar, Trinidad

Yet, there is only ever one Doig. There is something ethereal and tense in his work. It is not just the placements of colour, that does break up the space in such a way that the eye is stilled at certain points. It is also the size of the shapes that he uses. He generally paints one person, or melds together a variety of dusky colours to express a home or a bridge. He paints the mundane, but something in his work, a bit like Edward Hopper in the middle on the nineteenth century, produces canvases loaded with the unanswerable reality of the everyday. Very easily his work can represent a complete story that changes again and again.

He stands before his latest work that he calls Bats, and he tells the viewer that he has allowed the canvas to experience the weather elements and allowed the paint to become as transparent as possible. This is an interesting direction for him to be taking at this time. If he pursues this direction, his painting shall become even more dreamy in nature. To decide to work that way shall push his large canvases into an area of abstraction that I believe he can definitely pull off.

The fact that his expression is focused in Trinidad and Tobago and he is producing artwithout much distraction, is remarkable in that this painter is making very important work, and Trinidad and Tobago factors into this importance. Strangly enough, I think of the social painter from the turn of the last century in Trinidad, Michel Cazabon who painted our island in an almost anthropological way. His works are lorded as the only known and thus, most relevant art coming out of Trinidad and Tobago at that time.

Is it also possible that Mr. Doig is our twenty-first century Cazabon?

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