Monday, 8 May 2017

Adrian Searle on paint and Peter Doig

This is Adrian Searle's fine tribute to Peter Doig and his use of paint.

"What Doig discovered .. is that paint is like mud and can be drawn out in to trails and strokes like dangling vines, tendrils or branches.  It can make a clean white shape, like a canoe, or a broken inchoate mess of spatters, like a sudden cough or wind-whipped sleet. Paint can be like air or light, or solid as a bronze fire hydrant or a man's head or a truck.  It can trickle like water on a windowpane.  It can be inchoate and formless, or lain on to the canvas like rows of bricks or blind windows puncturing the side of a house, or a series of pictures hung on a wall.

Paint can be as emphatic as fence posts crossing a field, and can also be the boy in the field half-seen in the gloom.  It can be as explosive as a snowball hitting a kid in the face.  It can blur like a mirage of a couple on a hot b each.  It can dry like cement trowelled into the cracks in a wall.  It can be a headlight approaching or a canopy of stars reflected in heaving black water or lights on a distant shore seen through a translucent curtain covering a plate-glass windows, as sharp as long grass or a tangle of thorny bushes.  It can be as heavy and sodden as wet hair, or as immatrial as a reflection in ice, or fog on the breath.

It can be a slab of light hitting a building or the concrete itself or the foliage that's obscuring the view of the building and a smear of sun richocheting off a shadowed tree trunk. It can be diaphanous as the material stretched over an old parasol, scraped across the painting in a translucent veil.  It can be shiny as a truck and as fleeting as smoke blowing away from a chimney in a gale.  It can be something seen or half seen, or the implication of something not visible at all.  It can be both a parody and homage to another  painter's touch.  It can say many things at once.

Painting, in short, is  language through which painters discover their subjects and also both lose and find themselves.  This is why it is as much an act of recovery as it is one of discovering the unknown.  As words themselves frequently tell the writer what to write, so the substance of a painting dictates where nuance lies and where meaning might be found, and where figures might lurk.  There's always someone there if you look long enough.  If painting is  mirror it cannot avoid reflecting the one who made it."

Peter Doig    Adrian Searle, Kitty Scott and Catherine Grenier  Phaidon 2007 p. 79

No comments:

Post a Comment