When my dad asked if i'd like to go on a walking holiday and was there anywhere in particular i'd like to go my answer was Scotland and oh, could we stop in Edinburgh for a day? There's an exhibition i'd like to see. Scotland is a beautiful country to walk in and you know i was almost getting into the pipe music (which is i think like a retail version of musical chairs- Americans keep buying tartan and shortbread until the piper stops!), but by far the highlight of the trip for me was the visit to the Scottish National Gallery to see a retrospective of Scottish-born painter Peter Doig who i think is my favourite contemporary artist at the moment.
The first piece you see as you walk into the gallery is the immersive 100 years ago. I've only seen photos of Doig's work before, and you can't prepare yourself for the scale of some of these paintings in the flesh. The broad side of the vibrant red canoe in 100 years ago drifts off the canvas into the room and dilutes throughout the space as the craft sits ontop of the steady blues of the ocean beneath it. The colours splice the painting in three, like a Rothko with a Narravtive, and as this snapshot drifts past you the solitary figure in the boat stares back at you, watching the time pass.
Doig works from a combination of sketches and photographs and the exhibition contains a number of examples of these, you can also see how themes and compositions are reworked and evolving such as in Pelican, whose solitary subject was observed hunting pelicans by the artist, and he's captured his hostile and stand-off-ish pose.
There is movement is Doig's paintings, like an idea drifting downstream, the paint bleeds and runs, vague shadows and reflections emerge from the background, figures and objects are carried along frozen in time. But it's us traveling along with these figures and it's the blurred surroundings we pass by that we should be making sense of. There is a nod to the past, but the mood is that moment in the present and what might happen next.
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