Cobourg 3+1 more

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
    Christie's, New York, 8 March 2013, lot 65
    Private Collection
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 1995, Cobourg 3+1 more re-imagines a landscape that Scottish-born painter Peter Doig regularly caught sight of growing up. Sketching out the untouched environment of an eponymous lake near his Parents’ residence in Ontario, Canada, the painting is at once figurative and tainted with an air of mystery. Directly relating to other monumental works of the same scene, such as the large-scale canvas Cobourg 3+1 more, the present work hovers at the intersection between reality and abstraction. Executed a year after Doig’s Turner Prize nomination, Cobourg 3+1 more exists amidst a collection of paintings recounting persistent memories of the artist’s childhood home.

    From a young age, Doig was used to moving around cross-continentally, digesting and conflating various sights of nature and light. While the cool-coloured scene portrayed in Cobourg 3+1 more is specific to the artist’s vision of the Canadian landscape it is named after, the work nonetheless eludes rigid representational specificity. The picture’s hazy features, in conjunction with the rigorously structured composition, indeed demonstrates the artist’s proficiency in balancing the real, the embellished and the imagined, bringing together amassed visions of natural land while simultaneously bearing inherent formal subjectivity.

    While chromatic fields of blues and greens divide the piece clearly into three horizontal sections, the work relies on a single symmetrical balance exposing two mirrored images: Doig’s direct depiction of outside life on the upper section of the sheet, and its reflection in the water below. At the junction between clarity and indistinction, figures stand looking back at the viewer and their reflection, inducing an atmosphere of strangeness and nostalgia. British art critic Adrian Searle – also a former professor of Doig’s – defines the space separating these anonymous characters from the viewer in temporal terms: ‘Sometimes the distance between us and them is measurable not in yards or miles but in years, as if the painting were looking backwards to another time’ (Adrian Searle, ‘A Kind of Blankness’, in Peter Doig, London, 2007, p. 55). Unlike artists who paint en plein air or from memory, Doig works from photographs, both found and his own. The artist expands upon materialised images, thus merging the objectiveness of the camera lens with the subjectivity of the artist’s hand. The result of this ambivalent process is almost cinematic: elements from real life, picked apart from the photographs, are drawn in and out of focus on canvas. ‘The imagination has to be fuelled by image. I’m interested in mediated, almost clichéd notions of a pastoral landscape, in how notions about the landscape are manifested and reinforced in, say, advertising or film’ (Peter Doig, quoted in Matthew Higgs, ‘Peter Doig: Twenty Questions’ (extract), Peter Doig, London, 2007, p. 131).

    In Doig’s work, the reflective effect enabled by oil paint paired with the subject matters’ deliberate fogginess is reminiscent of French painter Claude Monet’s Impressionist gestures. In Monet’s water lillies, haystacks and landscapes the scene’s evocative essence is always captured in the artist’s exquisite daubs of rich paint. The varying tones of colour suggest light and shade, creating form, vitality and motion. When discussing the ways in which he amplifies natural phenomena in his work, Doig indeed references Monet’s ‘incredibly extreme, apparently exaggerated use of colour.’ (Peter Doig, quoted in Matthew Higgs, ‘Peter Doig: Twenty Questions (extract)’, Peter Doig, London, 2007, p. 132). It is indeed through this use of colour that the French artist’s canvases exude a sense of visual likeness, despite hesitant strokes: a quality that Doig further develops in his work.

    Though wholly unique, Doig’s paintings embody an amalgamation of visual allusions. From Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s evocative snow scenes to Gerhard Richter’s Abstract Paintings, Peter Doig’s work conjures numerous art historical associations: it is as rich in shared artistic heritage as it is in remembered images of his own. Cobourg 3+1 more, specifically exemplifies Doig’s remarkable ability to convey the essence of ‘homeliness’ – instilled with fragments and flickers of memory– fused with the impression of loneliness and isolation, whereby silhouettes become obfuscated figures, subsumed by the vast expanse separating them from us.

  • 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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23

Cobourg 3+1 more

signed, titled and dated '"COBOURG 3+1 more" Peter Doig 1995' on the reverse
oil on paper
99.1 x 72.6 cm (39 x 28 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1995.

Estimate
£700,000 - 900,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £1,029,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 hhighley@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 5 October 2018