Q

Peter Doig on Q: A visual companion guide

Figurative painter Peter Doig is among the world’s top-selling living artists. He spoke with Q's Tom Power about his work, his upbringing in Canada and the underbelly of the art market.

In a Q interview, the Scottish figurative painter discussed how his upbringing in Canada has shaped his art

Peter Doig is among the world's top-selling living artists. (Submitted)

Listen to Tom Power's full conversation with artist Peter Doig on The Q Interview podcast (click the play button below) and follow along using this visual companion guide.

Peter Doig is one of the most respected figurative painters of our time — and it's his depictions of Canada that have become the most famous and financially successful. Just last November, Doig sold one of his pieces, titled Swamped, for $39 million US, which placed him among the world’s top-selling living artists. He spoke with Tom Power about how growing up in Canada influences his work. Plus, how he was wrongly accused of painting a piece of art that made international headlines. 43:35

In the '90s, the London art scene exploded with soon-to-be superstars like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, but it was their quiet contemporary, Peter Doig, who slowly grew to become one of the most respected and collectable painters of our time.

Doig's figurative scenes evoke loneliness, mystery and timelessness with a slight irony and a tip of the hat to popular culture. This past November, his 1990 painting Swamped sold at auction for $39 million US — a huge sum that made headlines around the world. It was one of the many images the Scottish-born, Trinidad-based artist has painted of Canada. 

Doig joined Q's Tom Power over Zoom from Switzerland to discuss how his upbringing in Canada shaped his work. He also spoke candidly about the underbelly of the art market and what it felt like to be at the centre of the art world's trial of the century.

Follow along with the conversation using the images below.

Blotter, 1993

Peter Doig “Blotter”, 1993 Oil on canvas 98 x 78 inches 249 x 199 cm DOI 208 National Museums Liverpool. Presented to the Walker Art Gallery by the John Moores Family Trust in 1993 (Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London)

Blotter is based on a photograph Doig took of his brother standing on a frozen pond in Toronto that they had flooded to create a dramatic ripple. Its title is a reference to an acid trip that inspired the image.

White Canoe, 1991

White Canoe is part of a series of canoe paintings Doig made in the '90s, inspired by the final scene from the 1980 film Friday the 13th. In 2007, White Canoe sold at auction for $11.3 million US, which at the time set a record for a living artist.

Country Rock (Wing Mirror), 1999

Peter Doig “Country Rock (Wing Mirror)”, 1999 Oil on canvas 76 3/4 x 106 1/4 inches 195 x 270 cm DOI 281 Private Collection (Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London)

Country Rock (Wing Mirror) is one of Doig's most recognizable works. It's one of three paintings the artist made of the rainbow mural along Toronto's Don Valley Parkway.

Buffalo Station I, 1998

Peter Doig “Buffalo Station I”, 1997-1998 Oil on canvas 69 x 106 1/4 inches 175 x 270 cm DOI 268 Private Collection (Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London)

In 1978, 18-year-old Doig and his friends drove to Buffalo to see the Rolling Stones on the band's Some Girls tour. Twenty years later, he painted Buffalo Station I based on photographs his friend took outside the venue.

100 Years Ago (Carrera), 2001

Continuing his fascination with canoes, Doig based his painting 100 Years Ago (Carrera) on the cover of an Allman Brothers Band album with everyone removed except the bassist, Berry Oakley.

Untitled (Double Portrait), 2002

Doig's portrait of Neil Young is based on the cover of Déjà Vu, the second album recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Gram Parsons Fallen Angel, 2005

Peter Doig “Gram Parsons Fallen Angel”, 2005 Oil on paper 28 3/4 x 22 3/4 inches 73 x 57.5 cm DOIZ 1066 Sammlung Ringier (Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London)

Doig and Trinidadian artist Che Lovelace started the StudioFilmClub in Port of Spain to show old films every Thursday night. The Scottish artist created movie posters for each showing, including one for the 2004 Gram Parsons documentary, Fallen Angel

Shadow, 2019

Peter Doig “Shadow”, 2019 Dispersion on linen 51 1/4 x 31 1/2 inches 130 x 80 cm DOI 323 Private Collection (Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London)

Doig was friends with Calypso musician Mighty Shadow, who died in 2018. His music still has a huge impact on the artist.

Vintage Film Festival poster, 2015

Peter Doig painted the poster for Cobourg, Ont.'s vintage film festival. (Peter Doig/SOGRAC)

Inspired by the StudioFilmClub posters, the organizer of Cobourg, Ont.'s Vintage Film Festival asked Doig's mother, who lives in the area, if Doig would make a poster for the small local event.

Lapeyrouse Wall, 2004

Peter Doig “Lapeyrouse Wall”, 2004 Oil on canvas 78 3/4 x 98 1/2 inches 200 x 250.5 cm DOI 6 Museum of Modern Art, New York. Fractional and promised gift of Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro in honor of Kynaston McShine, 2004 (Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London)

Doig was fascinated with a local Trinidadian man who walked through the streets of Port of Spain with his parasol. He worked him into this painting inspired by Yasujirō Ozu's film Tokyo Story, which he screened at his StudioFilmClub.

Echo Lake, 1998

Peter Doig “Echo Lake”, 1998 Oil on canvas 91 x 142 inches 230.5 x 360.5 cm DOI 191 Tate. Presented by the Trustees in honour of Sir Dennis and Lady Stevenson (later Lord and Lady Stevenson of Coddenham), to mark his period as Chairman 1989-98, 1998 (Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London)

Like White Canoe and Swamped, Doig's Echo Lake was also inspired by the final scene in Friday the 13th.

Swamped, 1990

Peter Doig “Swamped”, 1990 Oil on canvas 78 x 95 inches 197 x 241 cm DOI 192 Private Collection (Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London)

In 2015, Swamped sold at Christie's auction house in New York for $26 million US, making Doig the highest-selling living British artist of that time. This past November, Swamped sold again for a record $39 million US.

Disputed landscape painting

This painting was at the centre of a two-year court battle involving renowned artist Peter Doig. Former corrections officer Robert Fletcher and Chicago art dealer Peter Bartlow sued Doig, alleging that he is the creator of the painting, signed by Peter Doige. A U.S. federal court judge ruled in Doig's favour on Aug. 23, 2016. (The Canadian Press)

In 2016, Doig went to trial to prove he did not paint this work, which a former corrections officer was trying to sell as a Doig original.


Interview with Peter Doig produced by Catherine Stockhausen.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now