PETER DOIG (B. 1959)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
PETER DOIG (B. 1959)

Frozen Lake

Details
PETER DOIG (B. 1959)
Frozen Lake
signed, titled and dated ''FROZEN LAKE' PM Doig '97' (on reverse)
oil on canvas
12 1/8 x 14 1/4in (30.7 x 36.2cm.)
Painted in 1997
Provenance
Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2002.
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.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1997, Frozen Lake is an evocative, intimately-scaled example of the personal, painterly and poetic landscapes that lie at the core of Peter Doig’s oeuvre. Rendered in near-transparent washes of white and silver, the work invokes the misty miasma of a winter lake, a spellbound scene of distant place, time and thought. Against three horizontal planes—a technique which runs like a golden thread throughout Doig’s practice—a forest of vertical lines springs up on the horizon, splintering into a screen of infinite shards. Evoking the glow of twilight and the haziness of dawn, the sky reflects a pastel blue light onto the lake beneath it, Doig’s brushwork skilfully illuminating the puddles scattered along the water’s icy surface. The composition, which is completely devoid of any human activity, is presented as a complex membrane of forms, at once abstract and figurative. Homely yet unfamiliar, and infused with a sense of nostalgia, Frozen Lake is a glistening mirage from a faraway place—a pictorial no-man’s land between reality and fiction. ‘I think the paintings always refer back to a reality that we all have experience of', explains Doig. '… 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’ (P. Doig, quoted in A. Searle, K. Scott and C. Grenier (eds.), Peter Doig, London 2007, p. 132).

Painted almost two decades after Doig’s move from Canada to London in 1979, Frozen Lake belongs to a series of works that the artist defined as ‘homely paintings’, a group which took photographs, often of Canadian subjects, as their starting point. Imbued with a sense of longing, these works were the first in his oeuvre to successfully transmit sensory recollections onto canvas, a technique which would go on to form a central component of his practice. Revisiting the places of his youth, Doig’s landscapes of the 1990s speak directly to the fuzzy act of memory, a quality which often led them to resemble the faded patina of an old photograph. ‘A lot of the paintings aren’t of Canadian subjects,’ Doig has said, ‘but somehow they always end up looking Canadian—it’s strange. I’m aware that I can’t get away from Canada, because my formative years were spent there. During the time that I returned to Canada, I tried to make a painting of the landscape en plein air, and I found it impossible to have either a focus or distance on that image. I was much more comfortable with looking at something on a page, as a way to contain the image. On my return, I would go to Canada House in London and look through the brochures advertising holidays in northern Canada’ (P. Doig, ibid., p. 131). Whilst not referring to any location explicitly, the frozen forms, glorious light and layers of mist depicted in Frozen Lake are evocative of a Canadian winter, a quality which aligns with his mission to render his landscapes as a dreamlike, imaginary place. In this sublime work, Doig presents us with a mysterious yet commonplace setting, awarding an emotive edginess to an otherwise ordinary view.

Currently the subject of a major new exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery, London, Doig has established a vivid dialogue with art history throughout his oeuvre. His canvases recall Claude Monet’s dappled depictions of water, Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh’s dense screens of trees, and Pierre Bonnard’s skilful handling of light. Gerhard Richter's squeegeed surfaces also formed a great source of inspiration: an influence which manifested itself in the marbled planar structures of his works. In Frozen Lake, Doig recalls the celebrated Eis (Ice) series Richter executed in 1989, particularly the monochromatic, snowy palimpsests of Eis (3) (Ice (3)). Reviewing Doig’s first solo exhibition in New York in 1994, critic Roberta Smith noted this influence, suggesting that ‘it could be said that Mr. Doig is trying to fuse the strands of Mr. Richter’s split career—his photo-realist works and the frozen gestures of his abstractions—into single works. But he also seems interested in making images that are more psychologically charged’ (R. Smith, ‘Art in Review’, New York Times, 30 September 1994). Rendered meticulously, and romanticised by the passage of time, Frozen Lake marvellously encapsulates the painterly and psychological power at the heart of Doig’s oeuvre.

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