– Spring/Summer 2000
Walter De Maria
Dots on Doig
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Peter Doig, Cabin Essence, Oil on canvas, 229 x 339 cm, 1994. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro.
Although patently artificial, these paintings never become tricksy. Skilfullness is never an issue where detail reveals the process of time, carefulness and hesitation. (This is something that I strongly admire, as I have always approached painting with a certain presumption of mastery and a collapse of effects. Doig's painting could be seen as the polar opposite to my own work, where uncertainty is created by overkill.)
For Doig, reflections and refractions of mountains and water speak of the irritation evoked by questions about the reality of one's own life - questions that could be answered, if one really wanted them to be. But time keeps on passing and should not be burdened with too much meaning; just as imprecision should never be obliterated from the pictures. An imprecision is formed here by chromatic islands, large whizzing curses made up out of countless drops and sparingly glazed, out-of-focus plane elements.
The adolescent only just rescued by the adult who is aware of his knowledge of the codes, a two-fold pleasure - the transitoriness of modernism evokes reassurance and unease in equal measures. This is a different (knowledge) from the one that, with (supposed) precision, sharp outlines and flat spacelessness, tries to sneak out of the lie of its own existence. Art emerges out of those positions that identify themselves in a shift, in a transfer of qualities from the margins while deliberately avoiding the centre of the mainstream - a mainstream (of art) that is degraded further by its bad and opportunistic interpretations of pop culture until it is reduced to what it is already officially seen to be, namely a power structure that has turned materialism