Peter Doig at Tate Britain

The artist himself talks about wanting to strip away content and narrative from his paintings, so as to allow the viewer the space for their own interpretation. While it does seem admirable that he encourages this, there is something cold and lonely about much of his work, indeed he often chooses abandoned and deserted locations as his subject. The upshot of this was that after a while I began to crave to see interaction between characters, the occasional isolated figures that do appear in DoigÂ’s paintings just werenÂ’t enough.

There also seems to be something of the macabre underlying most this work. The abandoned buildings threaten something sinister. Perhaps itÂ’s not even that subtle, after all Peter Doig readily admits that his series of paintings of a canoeist were inspired from Friday the ThirteenthÂ’s infamous lake scene. In many ways the paintings are like a horror film, theyÂ’re all about suspense. ThereÂ’s the constant suggestion of something lurking in these lonely settings and the viewer is made to feel a sense of vulnerability; the lone figures themselves holding the possibility of something sinister.

So DoigÂ’s greatest achievement is that, despite the fact he often paints from photographs, he gives us a sense of actually being in the scenes heÂ’s painted. He achieves his self stated aim of recreating the images we see while engaged in movement, whilst obviously being static like all paintings. There are certainly some masterpieces in there, despite the fact that some of the earlier work is reminiscent of GCSE art projects.

All in all well worth the £6 student discount and definitely drop in on it if you’re in that part of town.

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