Figure in Mountain Landscape (The Big...)

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Germany
    Private Collection (acquired from the above in 2004)
    Sotheby’s, Paris, 8 December 2009, Lot 2
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Dallas, The Dallas Museum of Art; Vero Beach, The Gallery at Windsor; Toronto, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Peter Doig: Works on Paper, 12 September 2005 - 18 June 2006, no. 36, pp. 46, 136 (illustrated, p. 46)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Sitting perched atop a mountain, a hooded figure is shown from behind. In his hands, a picture in the process of being painted, clearly depicting the mountains and lakes beyond. Peter Doig’s Figure in Mountain Landscape (The Big…) dates from 1998, and the work perfectly showcases his celebrated exploration of the nature of painting and representation. This has resulted in his sought-after works being included in museum collections around the world, as well as in solo exhibitions dedicated to Doig. The subject matter of this picture clearly appealed to Doig at the time it was painted, as Figure in Mountain Landscape (The Big…) is one of a group of related pictures in several media, largely created between 1997 and 1999, all showing the same figure in the mountains. This group includes the vast Figure in Mountain Landscape II, which is almost twelve feet wide and is now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as an etching in Tate, London.

    As its title suggests, this picture shows a figure seated in the foreground, with the background filled with the rugged landscape of Canada, eloquently captured through washes of green oils of different thickness and darkness. The pictorial technique of focussing upon a central figure whose back is turned—upon whom the viewer can project themselves—was famously employed by Caspar David Friedrich, not least in his iconic Wanderer above the Sea of Fog of around 1818, in the Kunsthalle Hamburg. While seemingly paying tribute to that work, Figure in Mountain Landscape (The Big…) is based upon a photograph showing another painter, Franklin Carmichael, painting Lake Grace in Canada. Carmichael was one of the ‘Group of Seven,’ an association of landscape painters who immersed themselves in the Canadian landscape, seeking to capture both the character of their nation and the grandeur and beauty of nature. The photograph of Carmichael in his smock is an image of artistic dedication—he has clearly climbed to some peak in order to look down on the lakes.

    By contrast, Doig is the first to admit that he is first and foremost a studio painter. Even in Canada, he found himself unable to respond to the prospect of painting en plein air. During the late 1980s and the 1990s, when he was living in London, he would create pictures showing Canadian themes and landscapes, reaching out to his homeland, hinting at his own nostalgia—yet these depended usually on imagery that he found in Canada House, rather than anything first hand. Ads, films and other people’s photos were his source material, as is the case in Figure in Mountain Landscape (The Big…). Doig has recalled: ‘So many of the paintings are of Canada, but in a way I want it to be more of an imaginary place-- a place that’s somehow a wilderness’ (Doig, quoted in J. Nesbitt, ed., Peter Doig, exh. cat., London, 2008, p. 11.) This results in a complex play of artistic feints, cutting to the core of Doig’s entire probing and celebration of the nature of memory and of painting.

    Painting is clearly the focus in Figure in Mountain Landscape (The Big…): while most of the composition is dominated by the swathes of green with which the painter and scenery have been depicted, it is the picture alone that has been rendered using frenetic brushstrokes of a contrasting red. Even the painter himself is subsumed within the all-encompassing green that dominates the rest. Doig’s use of green forces the viewer to acknowledge the picture’s status as precisely that: a painting. Doig has emphasised that he considers paintings as, ‘form and illusion in space’ (Doig, quoted in R. Tand, ed., ‘Peter Doig and Chris Ofili in Conversation’, pp. 113-122, in Ibid., p. 118.) By using this rigorously-limited palette, Doig deliberately undermines the suspension of disbelief that is usually invoked in figurative painting. ‘I never try to create real spaces-- only painted spaces,’ he has explained. ‘That’s all I am interested in’ (Doig, quoted in Peter Doig: Charley’s Space, exh.cat., Maastricht & Nîmes, 2003, p. 33.) He is revealing the mechanics of the medium, the tension between its clear fallibility as an incomplete means of communication and its mysterious effectiveness as a subjective vehicle for conveying a sense of emotion. Figure in Mountain Landscape (The Big…) eloquently explores this, revealing Doig’s self-proclaimed interest no so much in memories themselves, but instead ‘in the idea of memory’ (Doig, quoted in R. Schiff, `Incidents’, pp. 21-43, in Nesbitt (ed.), op. cit., 2008, p. 21.)

  • Catalogue Essay

    一個帶著帽子的人背對著畫面,獨坐在山頂上。他的手裡,拿著一幅尚未完成的畫,看來他正在描繪面眼前遠方的山岳與湖泊。彼得・多伊格的《山地景觀圖(大...)》創作於1998年,完美展現了他為人熟知對於繪畫和表現本質的深度探索。多伊格廣受好評的作品,獲得了世界各地美術館的典藏及推出他的個展的邀約。多伊格在1998年前後的那段期間對於這幅畫中的主題為之深深吸引,他在1997至1999年間,以不同媒材創作了一系列作品,主題皆是同一位人物出現在山景之中。這一批作品中,有一件巨幅的《山地景觀圖II》幾乎長達12英呎寬,目前為費城美術館所典藏,另一件蝕刻版畫也為倫敦泰德美術館所藏。

    如同作品名稱所指,畫裡的人物坐在前景,背景則滿佈著加拿大崎嶇有致的自然景觀,透過以不同厚度及明暗所處理的綠色油彩,精準捕捉了其中的風采。作品將畫面主角背對著觀者,成為視覺焦點,而讓觀者得以輕易將自身投射在主角身上,這樣的繪畫技法常在十九世紀德國浪漫主義畫家卡斯伯・大衛・弗雷德里希的畫中出現,現藏於德國漢堡美術館繪於1818年間的《霧海上的旅人》正為最佳例證。在此,多伊格看似是借鑒了那幅作品,但《山地景觀圖(大...)》實際上是依據一張照片所繪,裡面是另一位藝術家法蘭克林・卡米歇爾正在手繪著加拿大的格雷斯湖。卡米歇爾是「七人團體」的其中一員,他們沈浸於加拿大的美景,冀求將這個國家的特色及大自然的雄偉與美麗捕捉在作品之中。照片中的卡米歇爾穿著畫室工作服,呈現了一個對藝術奉獻的形象,他顯然爬上了山峰的頂端,以求得俯看視湖泊的視野。

    對比著卡米歇爾,多伊格首先承認自己主要就是一個偏好在畫室作畫的藝術家。即使在加拿大,他發現他無法適應度面對在室外作畫。他於1980晚期至1990年間住在倫敦,作品卻往往描繪了加拿大的主題或風景,畫對自己的故鄉示意,隱透著他的思鄉之情;然而,畫作內容卻源自於他在加拿大使館所找到的圖像資料,而非他的親身經歷。廣告、電影以及他人的照片是他的圖像來源,《山地景觀圖(大...)》也是如此。多伊格曾回憶:「有這麼多的繪畫都是以加拿大為題,但一方面來說,我更想將它呈現為成像是個幻想像出來的地方,一個有點像荒野的地方。」(多伊格,摘錄自J・涅斯比特所編撰,《彼得・多伊格》展覽目錄,倫敦,2008年,第11頁)。這形成了一個複雜的藝術幻象,並切入了多伊格探索及頌揚記憶及繪畫本質的核心。

    繪畫,顯然是《山地景觀圖(大...)》這件作品的主題焦點:整幅構圖固然是被綠色油彩的軌跡所主導,描繪著那位畫家及風景,然而,畫中畫卻充滿了強烈對比的紅色狂亂筆觸;即使連畫中的畫家本身,都融入了主導著整體、覆天蓋地的綠色油彩之中。多伊格在此用了大量的綠色,迫使觀者去認同那幅畫切確所在的空間地位:繪畫。多伊格曾強調過,他認為繪畫是「空間裡的造形與幻象」(多伊格,摘錄自R・譚德所編撰,《彼得・多伊格及克里斯・歐菲力的對話》第113-122頁;同上,第118頁)。透過如此嚴謹低限的用色,多伊格刻意去弱化了具象繪畫一般所訴求要觀者停止去懷疑的常態。「我從未試著要去製造真實的空間,我只畫出空間。」(多伊格,摘錄自《多伊格:查理的空間》展覽目錄,Maastricht & Nîmes,2003年,第33頁)。他揭露了繪畫媒材本身的運作機制:作為一個不完整的溝通方式來說,它具有明顯的不可靠性,然而,它作為一個主觀的載體在傳達情感上,卻又似謎般地有效,在這其中充滿了張力。《山地景觀圖(大...)》一作清楚呈現了上述概念,並揭示了多伊格所自述他對記憶本身並不甚感興趣,而是針對「對記憶的這個想法」的記憶」(多伊格,摘錄自R・席夫所著「意外」,第21-43頁;Nesbitt (編撰) 同上,2008年,第21頁)。

  • Artist Bio

    Peter Doig

    Scottish • 1959

    Peter Doig is widely considered one of the most renowned contemporary figurative painters. Born in Scotland and raised in Trinidad and Canada, Doig achieved his breakthrough in 1991 upon being awarded the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Prize and receiving a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.

    Doig draws on personal memories and source imagery in his pursuit of exploring the slippage between reality, imagination and memory through painting. The material properties of paint and expressive possibilities of color thereby serve to approximate the foggy, inarticulate sensation of remembering. His practice maintains a thin and balanced line between landscape and figure, superimposing photographic imagery and memories, both real and imagined.

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Property of a Prominent European Collector

Figure in Mountain Landscape (The Big...)

1998
signed, titled and dated '"FIGURE IN MOUNTAIN LANDSCAPE (THE BIG...)" 1998 Peter Doig' on the reverse
oil on paper
59.1 x 41.9 cm. (23 1/4 x 16 1/2 in.)
Executed in 1998.

Estimate
HK$1,800,000 - 2,800,000 
€202,000-314,000
$231,000-359,000

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2018