REVIEW | Peter Doig – Courtauld Gallery, London

Peter Doig at the Courtauld Gallery, London, is a short and sweet presentation of new works from the artist, many of which were begun in Trinidad and reworked in his London studio years later. Underpinning these works are the memories and observations from Doig’s experiences as an Edinburgh-born artist who lived for many years in Trinidad and Canada.

There’s not much to ride home about, but there are lovely pieces which convey some of that Caribbean atmosphere, featuring beach-goers, musicians, and hammocks. The Canadian links creep through in works like the Alpinist, which Doig derived from an old postcard and dressed in a harlequin’s costume, a reflection on a subject frequently explored by historic artists like Picasso.

There’s also a rare London scene of Regent’s Canal with a Munch-like aesthetic, and the monumental self-portrait at the beginning of the show makes a super strong impression. The overall contrasts in colour palettes between each painting is actually quite fun, sometimes with unusual colour combinations.

Downstairs, Doig’s etchings inspired by his poet friend Derek Walcott are exhibited for the first time in a free display. They were produced in response to Walcott’s collection of poems Morning, Paramin (2016) that were each inspired by Doig’s paintings. The range of visual effects created by etching with aquatint is impressive; some are perfectly dark without texture, some are closer to watercolours, and the subject matter is incredibly diverse. These come across as very experimental works across multiple dimensions.

Collectively, both shows offer unexpected delights in how Doig approaches his surroundings and reflects on the past. There is some semblance of a travelogue in these paintings and etchings that is refreshing, plain, and simple, and they feel transparent in a way that much of contemporary art is not.

The Morgan Stanley Exhibition: Peter Doig and Peter Doig: Etchings for Derek Walcott both run until 29 May 2023 at the Courtauld Gallery, London,


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