Artist research: Peter Doig

Updated on 19 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

21 October 2016. I have seen the magical figurative paintings by Peter Doig (*1959, UK) many times before. Most of Doig’s works are weirdly out-of-place landscapes and inhabitants at various degrees of abstraction, with outstanding technical originality and investigativeness. One subject appears to return, that of quiet waters, as e.g. in “Echo Lake” (Doig, 1998), “White Canoe” (Doig, 1990/1991) or as in a number of examples from his exhibition on the Tate Gallery’s website (Tate, 2008).
Peter Doig was Turner Prize nominee in 1994, 10 years into the prize. His associated work “Ski Jacket” (Doig, 1994) I found very pleasing to look at, somewhat Japanese in style but in a strange way both realistic, depicting a great number of beginner skiers in a winter mountain environment, and abstract in its texture and composition. It almost feels like a textile collage.
2 November 2016.  Since Doig produces some incredibly intricate and detailed patterns with a large variety even within the same painting, I found that the available resolutions make viewing his work on the computer inadequate and a bit frustrating. Nevertheless, the important lesson to learn here is something I increasingly feel with my own paintings: If the subject is allowed to guide the brushstroke, the results are absolutely authentical (if you know what to do, that is) and it is essential to never stop feeling this connection while working. I will keep returning to Doig’s world to remind myself whenever the tentacles of Everyday creep in again.

References:

Doig. P. (1990/1991) White Canoe [oil on canvas] [online]. Saatchi Gallery, London. Available at: http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/peter_doig_4.htm [Accessed 21 October 2016]

Doig, P. (1994) Ski Jacket [oil on two canvases] [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/doig-ski-jacket-t06962 [Accessed 21 October 2016]

Doig, P. (1998) Echo Lake [oil on canvas] [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/doig-echo-lake-t07467 [Accessed 21 October 2016]

Tate (2008) Tate Britain Exhibition: Peter Doig. 5 February – 11 May 2008 [image collection] [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/peter-doig [Accessed 21 October 2016]

Research: Euan Uglow and Giorgio Morandi – colour palette and simplicity in the purity of form

Updated on 7 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

4 August 2016. Two artists to revisit in order to study their choice of colour and approach to depicting form. Since I have seen work from both of them before, I though I would do a tiny compare and contrast exercise here.

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964), world famous Italian 20th century still life painter of a purist kind, remained mostly with a restricted colour palette consisting of earth colours and different shades of grey. For a selection of typical works and analysis of his approach see e.g. Artyfactory (n.d.), where I found an explanation for the curiously pure surfaces of his objects. Apparently it took him weeks of preparatory observation and rearranging the objects for him to feel satisfied with a setup and I can see, and even more than that, feel how the forms communicate. Any small change to setup, form and colour and the message would be totally different. The colour palette and chosen pure forms appear to me to mirror Morandi’s way of life and I am amazed at and envy his relaxed and determined attitude.

Euan Uglow (1932-2000) on the other hand, was mainly a figurative painter, but when comparing his choice of subjects and care of analysis with Morandi’s approach I can see many similarities. One of his still lifes, “Still Life with Delft Jar” (Uglow, 1958) radiates the same careful, contemplative approach. Even some of his figurative paintings have a Morandi-like quality, e.g. in “The Blue Towel” (3), which is visible also in a video presenting some of this paintings (inesvigo, 2011). It is as if Uglow had slowly felt his way around the canvas until he was utterly satisfied with the patterns of communicating areas of colour in every tiny bit of it. The above painting makes me want to put it under a light microscope and see whether the pattern is repeated down to the tiniest observable scale.

In both Morandi’s and Uglow’s work there does not seem to be any random noise, no superfluous statements, just what there is and nothing else. This is probably the consequence of a state of mind in tune with body and environment. I guess that not too many people achieve this permanently, but when they do their works of art may achieve a timeless quality.

References:

Artyfactory (n.d.) Giorgio Morandi – Natura Morta (Still Life) [online]. Artyfactory, n.k. Available at: http://www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/still_life/giorgio_morandi.htm [Accessed 4 August 2016]

inesvigo (2011) Euan Uglow [online]. inesvigo, n.k. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKYlGvuWdJw [Accessed 4 August 2016]

Uglow, E. (1958) Still Life With Delft Jar [oil on canvas] [online]. Arts Council Collection, London. Available at: http://www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk/artwork/still-life-delft-jar [Accessed 7 March 2017]

Uglow, E. (1982) The Blue Towel [oil on canvas] [online]. Jerwood Foundation, London. Available at: http://www.jerwoodfoundation.org/collection/26/the-blue-towel [Accessed 7 March 2017]