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    Peter Doig, 'Camp Forestia', Lot 22

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 13 February

  • Provenance

    Riflemaker Gallery, London
    Private Collection
    Sotheby's, London, 22 June 2006, lot 326
    Private Collection
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    London, Ridinghouse Editions, Peter Doig: Small Paintings,11 December 1996 - 25 January 1997
    Faurschou Foundation Beijing, Peter Doig: Cabins and Canoes, The Unreasonable Silence of the World, 3 March - 24 June 2017, pp. 118 and 274 (illustrated, pp. 119 and 268)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Delineating the inky contours of a wooden cabin tucked amidst trees and fauna, Camp Forestia, 1996, is a wonderful example of Peter Doig’s atmospheric oeuvre, ceaselessly informed by childhood memories, photographs, and conflated imagery. Camp Forestia, painted in a period when Doig was particularly inspired by woodland scenes, snowscapes and architectural elements, is a uniquely intimate formulation of his eponymous body of work, based on a Seattle lake clubhouse, formerly known as ‘Camp Forestia’. Boasting a wistful sepia palette, the present work stands amidst a few similarly named compositions, two of which are held at Tate, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Reflecting the titular cabin in the large body of water devised just beneath it, Doig presents the same image twice, separated only by the fluttering vegetation at the composition’s centre. Expanding horizontally, this stretch of land strictly divorces the portrayed earthly entities from their reflected, rippling counterparts, bisecting the picture into two refracted pictorial planes. ‘The mirroring opened up another world’, the artist explained. ‘It went from being something like a recognisable reality to something more magical’ (Peter Doig, quoted in Judith Nesbitt, ‘A Suitable Distance’, Peter Doig, exh. cat., Tate Britain, London, 2008, p. 14). Through methods of mirroring and doubling, Doig invites the viewer to examine the distinctions between reality and representation, and to enter the liminal space that is held at the junction of both.

    Painted in the aftermath of Doig’s Turner Prize nomination in 1994, Camp Forestia displays a number of the artist’s most revered iconographic feats, including his ability to convey images that drift between reality and fantasy, figuration and abstraction. At the heart of the composition, the titular cabin is unveiled in luminous splendour, glowing like an overexposed photograph. The architecture’s source – Seattle’s former Camp Forestia establishment – is amalgamated with Doig’s childhood memories of Canada, brimming with lakes, aurora borealis and interminable stretches of land. ‘Many of the paintings were not “Canadian” at all—they just ended up looking that way’, the artist said. ‘I was trying to come to terms with the Canadian part of my life. I left Canada when I was nineteen. I really wanted to get away. […] Going back to Canada when I was a little bit older, I realized how much I had absorbed there. It now felt important’ (Peter Doig, ‘Q&A: Peter Doig on the Haunting Influence of Place’, Artspace, 2 February 2018, online). Mining magazine advertisements, photographs and archival content upon his return to London in 1989, Doig conjured archetypical, almost clichéd images of the Canadian spirit. He furthermore noted ‘So many of these paintings are of Canada, but in a way I want it to be a more imaginary place – a place that’s somehow a wilderness’ (Peter Doig, quoted in Robert Schiff, ‘Incidents’, Peter Doig, exh. cat., Tate Britain, London, 2008, p. 11).

    Camp Forestia’s hazy features, in conjunction with its rigorously structured composition, demonstrates Doig’s proficiency in balancing the real, the embellished and the imagined, bringing together amassed visions of natural land whilst simultaneously bearing inherent imaginative subjectivity. In the cabin’s liquid reflection, the viewer is lured into a liminal space between past and present – a place where memory and image-making begin to occur. The physicality of the cabin itself – grand enough to supersede human dimensions, and small enough to be deemed approachable – played an important role in Doig’s construction of a homely muse, closely connected to the audience’s collective unconscious. ‘I wanted to make some homely paintings’, the artist said. ‘You have to remember the kind of art that was being exhibited at the time. In the late 1980s and early 1990s most art had a clean, contemporary, slick look. It was highly polished or manufactured to specification. I didn't want to become a part of that world. I purposely made works that were handmade and homely looking, [...] I started with very modest homes, like cabins’ (Peter Doig, quoted in ‘Q&A: Peter Doig on the Haunting Influence of Place’, Artspace, 2 February 2018, online).

    Created as part of his highly acclaimed Cabin series, 1991-1998, the present work speaks to the heightened importance of architectural structures within Doig’s oeuvre throughout that decade. In Camp Forestia, the Breughel-like blizzards that largely defined his paintings from the early 1990s have here given way to a calm, autumnal scene that twinkles distantly from its stormy predecessors, instead bringing the eponymous cabin into focus. Whilst recalling Doig’s continued interest in themes evocative of his peripatetic childhood environments, the work presents an ambiguous image that explores a broader scope of human emotion, whereby the house at the heart of the composition becomes a symbol for homeliness and nostalgia. In this perspective, Camp Forestia speaks to Doig’s desire to create pictures he described as ‘homely’, a concept linked to the uncomplicated comfort of home, but also evocative of the Freudian notion of the uncanny. The uncanny, translating to ‘unheimlich’, or ‘not from home’ in German, exists in a semantic overlap with the terms ‘heimlich’ (secret) and ‘heim’ (home), together hosting a range of complex associations. Camp Forestia, at once distant and familiar, embodies the Freudian concept with great verve; it is anchored in an enduring tradition of unnamed and untraceable architectures in the history of painting.

    Constructing a list of ‘Top Ten House Painters’ on the occasion of Matthew Higgs’ exhibition Imprint 93 Project at the Cabinet Gallery, London, in 1994, Peter Doig notably hailed Edward Hopper’s House by the Railroad, 1925, Ed Ruscha’s F House, 1987, and the elusive Château de Chillon painted by Gustave Courbet in 1874, as seminal examples. Additionally, one may grasp an echo of Edvard Munch’s The Storm, 1893, in the present work, comparable by virtue of its similar contrast between light and darkness, its use of mirroring enabled by the central tree’s meandering silhouette, and its nebulous, misty sky. Both essential renditions of the house, Munch’s The Storm and Doig’s Camp Forestia seem as though they are set in the same, imperceptible terrain. They draw a topography of scattered emotions rather than a clear geographic arrangement – a place that is universal, atemporal, and psychologically absorptive. At the same time, the explicit sense of isolation exuded by Camp Forestia’s lack of human presence differentiates it from Doig’s populated incarnations; in this perspective, the viewer is made to focus even more on the portrayed house, devised entirely in accordance to the nature that surrounds it.

    Exquisitely painted, Camp Forestia testifies to Doig’s superior artistic abilities. It is an exceptional example of his assured hand, conjuring an image that is familiar and surreal, ethereal and grounded.

  • 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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Property of a Distinguished European Collector

Ο ◆22

Camp Forestia

signed, titled and dated 'Camp Forestia '96 Peter Doig' on the reverse
oil on board
34.9 x 50.1 cm (13 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1996.

Estimate
£700,000 - 1,000,000 

Sold for £800,000

Contact Specialist

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099
[email protected]

 

Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 13 February 2020