Peter Doig

by sfe medusa

Is this the so-called “art world”?


Aside from the exhibitions themselves, the best part about going to see shows at Mayfair galleries is getting the chance to eavesdrop on earnest dealers spouting shit to potential buyers.
“Americana.” “Folk!” “Folk Americana. Reminiscent of early American painting.” “Early American realism.” – a verbatim conversation held today at Michael Werner Gallery, between a translucent lady wearing her US accent as stubbornly as her Mary Jane mules and a much more bronzed man in an ill-fitting leather jacket whose ego must’ve been heavier than Saturn.

Frantically labelling, categorising, packaging up into a swallowable new item all ready for its proud owner to boast all over the shop about. It feels so removed from the paintings themselves; were those oily gems really created with this conversation in mind? Witnessing them gesticulate in front of the static paintings is like watching loggerhead parents negotiate over the future of a wide-eyed child rooted uncertainly to the spot.

I hear her say it takes Doig “ages” to do anything, motioning towards a large painting that supposedly took him two years. I wonder whether it could be finished in a quarter of that time by someone who had more urgent mouths to feed. But then again, they’d be making a different painting altogether. But then again x 2, what do I know.

Perhaps that elite menace. That same searing guilt that accompanies the steps through Mayfair’s streets you feel unworthy taking.

The works themselves are beautiful disfigurements, reaping the same incandescent lilacs, turquoises and rusts as Michael Armitage did in his recent show The Chapel. Doig’s textured, layered forms look like he’s collaged with paint pigment, then rubbed away vigorously at the surface, like a strong sunbeam discolouring fabric.

The details are hazy but the edges are defined and confident, these paintings are both present and dreaming.