Saturday, February 1, 2014

Peter Doig Exhibition in Montreal

Peter Doig has long been a favorite painter of mine so when I heard his paintings were coming to The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts I was thrilled. His unapologetic painterly approach to painting and beauty in an art world infatuated with irony and dystopian concepts is as refreshing as a slash of red cadmium across a dark painting. He breathes life into painting like no other contemporary artist I know.  His work sings, hums and dives deep into your belly and stirs you from the inside out.






 The sheer size of the canvases leaves you breathless. These paintings are filled with a great voluminous spaciousness that allows your imagination to do somersaults in. There is room for your breath to exhale into as you wander endlessly through the paintings and then return to the museum room for a minute before wandering off into another painting. Viewing this exhibition is not so much looking as journeying into other spaces and dimensions of time and space. You feel as though you are falling into dreamtime.




There is a dream-like, ethereal quality to the work that allows you to suspend yourself in another realm. You feel an inward shift as you follow the nonlinear abstractions and shapes which say so much more than rationality and logic are able to convey.


 There is a deep understanding and acknowledgement of the great 20th century painters who came before. There are nods to Gaugin, Rothko and Matisse amongst others but all churned and filtered through the artists own neurons. These former masters are internalized by Doile and moved forward into a unique and contemporary understanding of how to fill the canvas with paint.



 
Shapes are a visual element of painting that excites me like no other. Doig's use of shapes was brilliant, a virtual feast of shapes; overlapping shapes, solid shapes juxtaposed with transparent shapes, blurry edges, shapes dissolving one into another, ambiguous shapes, dark shapes enveloping other more transparent shapes..the variety and range is endless.







Each painting appeares deceptively simple, distilled down to its core essence.
Poetry.
However, when you see all the sketches, studies, prints and obsessive ponderings behind the different artworks you realized that the artist often spent years on a single painting.



In Doig's own words, " “A painting is a living thing,” when asked how he knows a painting is finished. “It’s finished when it’s let go, when it’s out the door. I’ve realised what I like in other artists’ paintings is when they’ve been left open and not shut down. I’m learning to do that.”


 Peter Doig's paintings have filled my being with energy and passion for the painting process again. An auspicious beginning to the year 2014. I will work towards saying less and focus on shape making as a visual way of saying more.


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