Palheiro (For: Zombie Golf)

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Switzerland
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014

  • Exhibited

    London, BANKSPACE, Zombie Golf, 20 May - 25 June 1995

  • Literature

    David Barrett, 'Reviews/Zombie Golf', Frieze, 9 August 1995, online

  • Catalogue Essay

    Palheiro (For: Zombie Golf) brings together all the stylistic subtleties that have set Peter Doig apart as one of the most exceptional figurative painters of the contemporary canon: detailed light, inventive brushwork, rigorous composition and poetic timbre. Merging thin, almost imperceptible lines with thick strokes of colour, the artwork is replete with compositional nuances, seemingly effortless yet, in fact, extremely elaborate. Juxtaposing horizontal layers with free movement, bright colours with softer tones, Palheiro (For: Zombie Golf) seems to emulate nature’s confoundingly polyvalent geometry and light, at once sophisticatedly structured and miraculously unbridled.

    Not unlike Paul Gauguin’s uncompromising approach to colour – ‘Pure colour! Everything must be sacrificed to it’, the artist exclaimed - Doig’s vision of space works on the assumption that earthly models are but a suggestion, a starting block from which imagination and subjectiveness inevitably take over. In this sense, the artist’s canvases are as hazy as they are specific: they draw from true places – mostly Scottish, Canadian, or German landscapes – yet expand into abstract and otherworldly scenes.

    Palheiro (For: Zombie Golf), a glowing landscape at once verdant and deserted, is similarly dedicated to sublimed or conflated locations. It celebrates the authoritative presence of an empty golf course: a context Doig was familiar with growing up, as his father was an avid golfer. As the painting stood amidst works equally focused on the fused images of golf course and isolation in a show orchestrated by the artist collective BANK in 1995, the present painting aptly addressed the exhibition’s underpinning theme of zombie iconography, examining the eeriness of lifeless landscapes and the culture of resounding silence. For Palheiro (For: Zombie Golf), Doig drew from integrated images sourced from postcards, magazines, movies, and photographs with memories real or imagined, but also horror-fueled thoughts, verging altogether on the cinematic. As expressed by art critic Terry R. Myers, Doig’s canvases ‘suffuse manifestations of the landscape not with nostalgia, but with the terror of anticipation’ (Terry R. Myers, Peter Doig, Blizzard Seventy-Seven, London, 1998, p. 65). It is perhaps this sense of stillness and emptiness permeating Doig’s paintings that lends them such chilling traits, not unlike the quasi-mythological iconography of thriller films.

    Similar features pervade Doig’s exceptional cabin paintings, executed from the early 1990s onwards. These works, portraying habitable wooden structures from within or without, are indeed suffused with a sense of uncanny luminescence. They have furthermore pushed the artist’s career to another level, transposing simultaneously his skilful qualities and unique visual universe on canvas.

    The method with which Palheiro (For: Zombie Golf) was created furthermore magnifies the work’s ethereal appearance. Achieved with thinned oil, the painting’s portrayal of a dewy landscape takes life, as the green brushstrokes naturally blend into the support’s wooden matter. As noted by David Barrett, ‘the meandering lines of wood grain become part of the painted cloud patterns, the natural wood becoming party to the beautification of nature’ (David Barrett, quoted in ‘Zombie Golf’, Frieze, 9 August, 1995, online). The content of the painting and the painted object thus fuse as one, resulting in the creation of a truly complete picture.

    Eery landscapes and uncanny natural environments were also a subject of choice for American realist painter Edward Hopper. The artist’s 1925 House by the Railroad, for instance, depicts an isolated house at the foot of a railroad, from which each bit of available space seems to scream absence and breathlessness. Hopper, some seventy years before Doig, similarly valued the cinematic aspect of loneliness, and relied on the technique of realism to create ghostly images. This picture, like Palheiro (For: Zombie Golf), exposes the confounding role of nature when man-built structures are left alone.

    Gerhard Richter’s seascapes - especially the cloudy ones - also undergo such conceptual and practical methods. In a series of paintings resembling blurry photographs, the German painter invites the viewer to imagine the movement of water, while making prevalent, through a meticulously chosen perspective, the daunting placidity of the sea. The angles from which Richter paints these oceanic scenes indeed suggest that the sea owns us, and has the ready capacity to swallow us.

    The landscape in Palheiro (For: Zombie Golf) also contains this sense of self-sufficiency. The canvas’s soft colours, the wind blowing in the trees, the silence of it all, reminds the viewer that they are just that: a passive observer with no further agency. Nature dominates from within the canvas and beyond.

  • 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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25

The Property of a Gentleman

Palheiro (For: Zombie Golf)

signed, titled and dated '"FOR: ZOMBIE GOLF 'PALHEIRO"' '95 PETER DOIG' on the reverse
oil on wood
121.7 x 183 cm (47 7/8 x 72 in.)
Painted in 1995.

Estimate
£900,000 - 1,500,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £969,000

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