Peter Doig (b. 1959)
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Peter Doig (b. 1959)

Canoe Lake

Peter Doig (b. 1959)
Canoe Lake
signed, titled and dated 'Canoe-Lake Peter Doig 99' (on the reverse)
oil and pastel on paper
16½ x 23 3/8in. (41.8 x 59.2cm.)
Executed in 1999
Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York.
Tracey Williams Ltd., New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
New York, Gavin Brown's enterprise, Peter Doig: Version (Drawings), 1999.
Dallas, The Dallas Museum of Art, Peter Doig: Works on Paper, 2005-2006, no. 63, p. 167 (illustrated in colour, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Vero Beach, The Gallery at Windsor and Toronto, The Art Gallery of Ontario.
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Lot Essay

'Reflections function as entrances to other worlds'
(P. Doig, quoted in P. Bonaventura, 'Peter Doig: A Hunter in the Snow', in Artefactum, Autumn XI (53), 1994, pp. 12-15).

Enigmatically gazing into the shimmering water with an arm skimming the surface, an esoteric figure is draped along a canoe's edge, their flaxen hair cascading down in a thin veil. Embodying a sense of mystery, Canoe Lake, 1999 is a work that offers a glimpse into the experimental nature of Peter Doig's practice. Images of canoes and reflections have formed a touchstone for the artist since the beginning of his career in the 1980s, reappearing in several major works such as Echo Lake, 1998 (Tate Gallery, London), Swamped, 1990, White Canoe, 1991, and Friday 13th, 1998. Returning to the now celebrated theme in his practice of the canoe on water, the present work is a chromatic melting pot of vertical planes of colour. Canoe Lake was included in the exhibition of the artist's works on paper at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2006.

The artist's surreal palette of cornflower blue and watery green set against an abstracted landscape elicits an undertow of disturbance, an apprehensive stillness. Applied in thin, diluted washes, Doig builds up interlacing veils of colour, drawing connections between the seemingly limitless surface of water and that of painting. Canoe Lake has a unique freedom of expression engendered by the oil and pastel on paper medium, which ultimately informed the artist's change in his handling of paint from the thick impasto of his earlier practice to the translucent washes that characterize his work from the late 1990s. The motif of reflection in Canoe Lake is a formal construct that Doig employs to create complexity in the compositional reading of the subject. For the artist, 'reflections function as entrances to other worlds' (P. Doig, quoted in P. Bonaventura, 'Peter Doig: A Hunter in the Snow', Artefactum, Autumn XI (53), 1994, pp. 12-15). Indeed, the melding of the image and its subsequent mirroring in the water's surface play on notions of representation as well as opticality, the reflection highlighting the falsification of image-making, both visually and in paint.

Capturing a diverse range of subjects in his practice, the artist often employs elements of photography and film alongside his own memories. Drawing loosely from his sources, Doig subjects them to shifts in focus, often in violation of the apparent significance of the original perspective. An ambiguous narrative, the title of this work refers to the lake by the same name located in the vast wilderness of central Ontario, Canada. Canoe Lake, however, also finds its root in the dream sequence from the cult horror classic, Friday the 13th. Of the artist's experience watching this movie in 1987 he has said, 'I was struck by its relationship to Munch and also by the plain beauty of this still moment amidst all the carnage' (P. Doig, quoted in 'Kitty Scott in Conversation with Peter Doig', in A. Searle et al. (eds.), Peter Doig, London 2007, p. 10). Conflating this imagery with his own experiences in the Canadian wilderness, Doig's work provokes a sense of the uncanny, his offhand treatment of the subject allowing its incidental qualities to escape definite categorization. Of this Doig has explained, 'I am trying to create something that is questionable, something that is difficult, if not impossible, to put into words... I often use heightened colours to create a sense of the experience, or mood or feeling of being there... I think the paintings always refer back to a reality that we all have experience of' (P. Doig, quoted in K. Scott, Peter Doig, exh. cat., Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2001, pp. 15-17).

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