My Favourite Painting: Piet Oudolf

'One cannot sense whether he is far out on the ocean or closer to shore, or what he may be watching or feeling in that moment as he stares towards the beach.’

Piet Oudolf chooses 100 Years Ago (Carrera)

‘What impresses me in Peter Doig’s paintings are the immersive landscapes and colours. The rich compositions are always more than what you see on first sight, figures often look isolated in their context and the colours remind me of Gauguin.

‘I am drawn to this particular painting because you can feel that the person in the boat is very much on his own. One cannot sense whether he is far out on the ocean or closer to shore, or what he may be watching or feeling in that moment as he stares towards the beach.’

Piet Oudolf is a garden designer

John McEwen on 100 Years Ago (Carrera)

Peter Doig is one of the most successful living artists, renowned for his imaginative figurative works. ‘All the paintings have an element of autobiography in them,’ he has said, ‘but I resist making the autobiographical readings overly specific.’

He was born in Edinburgh, but his Scots father’s shipping-accountancy job took the family abroad – he spent his childhood in Trinidad and his boyhood in Canada.

‘To get away’, Mr Doig went to London to learn art, concluding in 1990 with a masters degree from Chelsea School of Art, where he experienced an ‘epiphany: I started making paintings influenced by artists I’d admired… people like Hopper and Munch’.

In 2000, an art residency took him back to Trinidad, where he returned in 2002 and has lived ever since.

Mr Doig regards his art as ‘filmic’. He explains: ‘I like the idea that the pictures might be films and the viewer could become the director.’ The title of this one refers to the arrival of cinema in Trinidad a century before it was painted. As is his wont, the references are of a complex variety. Carrera is the Trinidadian island shown, although the bold coloured divisions are more abstract than naturalistic. The canoe, which appears in several paintings of this period, recalls Canada. The painting was inspired in part by an image of the Allman Brothers Band on the inside gatefold of the record An Anthology by Duane Allman, with the figure being based on American bassist Berry Oakley, a founding member of the band.

An exhibition of Mr Doig’s new paintings is at Michael Werner Gallery, 22, Upper Brook Street, London W1, until November 16.  


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