Peter Doig - Editions & Works on Paper New York Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • Peter Doig’s Fisherman exemplifies the artist’s dreamlike approach to the construction of an image: half archival photograph, half memory, Fisherman captures a striking scene from a Tahitian beach that Doig observed alongside fellow artist Chris Ofili while at an artists’ residency. “We were on a remote beach and we saw that guy in the sea, bobbing around with a pelican. He was bobbing in this swell, quite far out, and clearly wasn’t swimming. At first I thought he was rescuing the pelican, that it had broken its wing. Then it became clear that he was trying to drown it. And then he came onto the beach and as he walked along the shore you could see that he was swinging the pelican around by its neck. The way that the pelican was looping and looping and looping, he was obviously wringing its neck… He glared at us as if to say: You shouldn’t be watching this. Don’t take notice.” i

    The fisherman’s gaze stayed with Doig for years, but any attempts to capture it in painting failed to match the intensity or truth of his experience. It was only in stumbling across a vintage postcard collection in a London secondhand store that Doig found the right tools to recreate the moment. Borrowing the image of a man dragging fishing nets across a beach in rural India, Doig substituted the net with the body of the pelican and began to repaint the composition. Pairing representational painting and expressive abstraction, Fisherman is redolent with the tropical vibrancy of Tahiti and captures the tense moment of exchange between fisherman and viewer as he drags the pelican behind him.


    Peter Doig, Pelican, from Black Palms, 2004. Etching and aquatint in colors, on Zerkall paper. Phillips, London, Evening & Day Editions, June 7-8, 2023, lot 213. Artwork: © Peter Doig / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Doig often uses photography as the basis for his paintings, projecting his own experiences on the aperture of found imagery to create compositions that are emotionally, if not literally, accurate. Once preoccupied with an image, Doig will often repaint it several times as he works through his memories of the event. Doig would go on to recreate the scene of the fisherman and pelican at least six times - in paint, charcoal, aquatint, watercolor, and gouache. Two similar compositions, Pelican Man and Pelican, are held in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. This print reproduces Doig’s 2002 watercolor and gouache drawing and was published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with their 2013 exhibition No Foreign Lands. 

    i "Peter Doig by Chris Ofili," BOMB Magazine, October 1, 2007, online.

    • Artist Biography

      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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Lot offered with No Reserve


Archival digital pigment print in colors, on Somerset paper, the full sheet.
S. 34 3/4 x 27 1/4 in. (88.3 x 69.2 cm)
Signed, dated and numbered 24/500 in silver ink, published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, unframed.

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$1,000 - 1,500 

Sold for $1,651

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 27 June 2024