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Peter Doig (b. 1959)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Peter Doig (b. 1959)

Tour de Charvet

Details
Peter Doig (b. 1959)
Tour de Charvet
signed, titled and dated ‘‘PETER DOIG 1995 ‘TOUR de CHARVET’ Peter Doig’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
59 x 51.1/8in. (150 x 130cm.)
Painted in 1995
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1995.
Special Notice

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

‘I often use heightened colours to create a sense of the experience or mood or feeling of being there, but it’s not a scientific process. I think the paintings always refer back to a reality that we all have experience of. We have all seen incredible sunsets. We’ve all experienced the sensation of light dropping and producing strange natural effects, and I think in a way I am using these natural phenomena and amplifying them through the materiality of paint and the activity of painting... When I was making the ‘snow’ paintings I was looking a lot at Monet, where there is this incredibly extreme, apparently exaggerated use of colour’ (P. Doig, quoted in ‘Peter Doig: Twenty Questions (extract), 2001’, in A. Searle et al. (eds.), Peter Doig, London 2007, p. 132).

‘I often paint scenes with snow because snow somehow has this effect of drawing you inwards’ (P. Doig, quoted in R. Schiff, ‘Incidents’ in J. Nesbitt (ed.), Peter Doig, exh. cat., Tate Britain, London, 2008, p. 27).

Resplendent in its icy glimmering sheen, Peter Doig’s Tour de Charvet, 1995 offers an absorbing expanse of snow cast in suffused, glowing colour. Rendered in a subtle palette of pinks, mauves and violets, Doig’s luminous envisioning of the off-piste is filled with a wondrous sense of cool, winter light akin to the crystalized shimmers of fresh powder. The soft-edged quality of Doig’s brushstrokes captures the quality of light and dense texture of heavily packed snow, translating its elemental qualities in accumulating layers of translucency and rich opacity. Suggestive of man’s relationship with the landscape, the silhouettes of miniature human figures punctuate the foreground. Each figure is depicted as specific in detail yet perfectly anonymous. Set against this vast, alpine scene the figures seem profoundly alone in the unfathomable openness of the space. A painterly meditation on the way we see, through his treatment of paint Doig invokes more than an illusionary effect but a true sense of nostalgia in the crispness of the air and the blinding sunshine glistening off the slopes. Indeed in Tour de Charvet, the paint becomes like snow itself. Created just before its larger brother White Creep, there is a distinct intensity and drama in Tour de Charvet. The definition of Doig’s brush marks comes through more strongly here, adding depth to the shadows, creating a much more affected subject.

One of the last ski paintings Doig created in London in the mid-1990s, Tour de Charvet sits alongside other snow works such as Ski Jacket, 1994, which is now in the collection of Tate, London. The series depicting alpine pursuits was inspired by ski posters and advertisements. Here its title refers to Tour de Charvet, the best-known off-piste run in Val d’Isère, France. In contrast to his earlier winter landscapes which offered a view of the vast Canadian landscape framed through the veil of branches or snowfall, the ski paintings marked a departure in Doig’s practice which offered broad expanses of space, opening the composition. As Doig recalls, 'When I made the first skiing paintings, they were made as a reaction to things I had made previously, paintings with a proliferation of matter on the surface of the canvas. I had wanted to get away from that device of always ‘looking through’, whether it be trees, branches or snow - in to the painting. It could have become manneristic. I wanted to make things more open’ (P. Doig, quoted in ‘Peter Doig: Twenty Questions (extract), 2001’, in A. Searle et al. (eds.), Peter Doig, London 2007, p. 135). Contemporary with Olin MK IV, the ski paintings are distinct in their composition and surface treatment, and represent a paradigm shift in his practice from the mid-1990s onwards. Speaking of this ‘I felt I was making paintings with devices, or there was a methodology to the way I worked. And I wanted to make an open painting, not as open as say, Alex Katz’s paintings but to be up front like that. Just to see if it could work... I made maybe two or three others like that, which are actually considered to be part of a series over time’ (P. Doig, quoted in ‘Peter Doig and Chris Ofili in Conversation’, Peter Doig, exh. cat., Tate Britain, London, 2008, p. 114).

Doig was inspired by the snow landscapes of Claude Monet which he saw at the survey of the Impressionist at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 1990. Tour de Charvet would seem to have been conceived in direct response to this experience, reflected in the artist’s particular choice of pale tonalities contrasted by passages of inky blues and green which picks out the peaks and valleys. ‘I often use heightened colours to create a sense of the experience or mood or feeling of being there, but it’s not a scientific process. I think the paintings always refer back to a reality that we all have experience of. We have all seen incredible sunsets. We’ve all experienced the sensation of light dropping and producing strange natural effects, and I think in a way I am using these natural phenomena and amplifying them through the materiality of paint and the activity of painting... When I was making the ‘snow’ paintings I was looking a lot at Monet, where there is this incredibly extreme, apparently exaggerated use of colour’ (P. Doig, quoted in ‘Peter Doig: Twenty Questions (extract), 2001’, in A. Searle et al. (eds.), Peter Doig, London 2007, p. 132). Softly translucent, the way in which Doig conveys his imagery is evocative of Claude Monet’s studies of haystacks or Chartres Cathedral under various light and weather conditions, but extrapolates the emotive characteristics of colour that finds its legacies in the epic Mountain scenes of Félix Vallotton and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. This legacy can be seen in openness of landscape and a refined palette, cutout compositions and bold framings that offers a place of contemplation. The anachronistic colour palette introduces an existential dimension, prompting the viewer to ask questions about the picture itself, the world it represents, and our own place within our own surroundings. Indeed, Doig was also inspired by Kirchner’s late mountain paintings which the German artist created in Switzerland where he sought solace following his traumatizing wartime experience. However, whereas Kirchner offers the untouched landscape showing man and man’s creations as subservient to Nature, Doig’s ski scenes offer a landscape where man has shaped the environment to his own: carving his own trail from the mountainside. Refreshing the dialogue in the relationship between man and nature, Tour de Charvet captures the human element remains entirely subsumed and consumed by the immensity of the landscape, of the world.

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