Peter Doig - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 2, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, USA
    Private Collection, Germany
    Private Collection, Switzerland

  • Catalogue Essay

    'In Chicago, I saw a painting by Daumier, L'amateur d'estampes, of a man looking at prints. The House of Pictures became my version.' Peter Doig

    To experience Peter Doig’s House of Pictures, 2002-2003, is to engage in an exhilarating game of push and pull. A dazzling flame of orange hair arrests our attention, yet the figure to whom it belongs’ backwards stance rebukes our advances; manifestly in view but physically inaccessible. The intimacy of its scale invites familiarity, but this too is a double-edged sword, as the severe cropping creates an unsettling sense of claustrophobia and entrapment, all the while excluding the viewer from anchoring it to any sense of time and place; but for the blazing swathe of orange, the figure seems almost intangible.

    It is a hallmark of Doig’s oeuvre to conceal, obscure or otherwise remove his figures just beyond the viewer’s reach. Following in the tradition of Edward Hopper’s late-night diners and Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills, Doig toys with our human compulsion to impose narrative. The saturnine protagonist of House of Pictures refuses to give us any clues, leaving them an empty canvas onto which the viewer’s imagination can project their memories, dreams, and fantasies. Following the same bloodline, Doig’s painting has an undeniably cinematic presence and magically instils a sense of nostalgia for a past the viewer has not even necessarily experienced themselves. As one scholar observes: 'As a matter of course, Doig’s work displays a resolute, unwavering faith in the medium of panting. Free of compulsions to provide justifications, of pressures to engage in argumentation, this attitude expresses a contemporary sensibility, a consciousness that inscribes the past—and implicitly, nostalgia and sentiment as well—into the image as a perpetually renewed process.' (Peter Doig: No Foreign Lands, exh. cat., Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2013, p. 80)

    The work’s formal economy means that it occupies a liminal space between figuration and abstraction: reality as filtered through the prism of Doig’s inimitable imagination. Indeed, this is an enchanting example of the artist’s class of magical realism. The insistence on a reference point from the tangible world has been described by Doig as a desire to be 'hinged in reality, hinged in a believeableness' (Peter Doig, cited in Robert Enright, 'The Eye of the Painting: An Interview with Peter Doig', BorderCrossings 98, June 2006). It is this effortless assimilation of the two realms of abstraction and figuration into an enchanting dreamscape that singles Doig out as a leading figure in contemporary art’s ‘return to painting’. Doig’s distinctive visual grammar interweaves personal recollections and found imagery with references to art history, as in House of Pictures. The artist amasses his sources from film, photography or from his own lived experience, yet these collages of influence can only truly be actualised through paint on canvas. The figure in House of Pictures is at once uniquely biographical to Doig but also a familiar leitmotif in art history: the shock of red hair has previously adorned the subjects of Gustav Klimt, Edvard Munch, the Pre-Raphaelites and Sandro Botticelli. House of Pictures has a fascinating genesis, alongside its larger, sister piece from the same year. Doig was first inspired to make the work in response to an encounter with a 19th-century picture gallery named ‘Haus der Bild' (House of Pictures) he encountered during a summer sojourn in the Austrian capital. Initially only painting the façade, it was not until two years later that he found the lead character for the work, chanced upon outside a restaurant in Vancouver. This person was 'a guy getting into a minivan; he had his hands in his pockets, looking for his keys, and he was dressed all in black leather like Johnny Cash. He was actually native Indian. I never saw his face but he had this incredible mane of black hair and this black hat, and he had on these extreme cowboy boots. It was the body position that I liked. But in my painting I wanted the figure to look European, so I made his hair red instead. I wanted him to be like a figure from a Fassbinder film' (Peter Doig, cited in Robert Enright, 'The Eye of the Painting: An Interview with Peter Doig', BorderCrossings 98, June 2006).

    It is this unique patience for, and confidence in finding the perfect missing pieces for his works, which he then unites and reworks from their disparate histories into a single whole which singles Doig out as one of the foremost imaginations of his generation.

  • 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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House of Pictures

signed, titled and dated 'Peter Doig 2002/'03 'House of Pictures' on the reverse
oil on canvas
40.8 x 30.7 cm (16 1/8 x 12 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2002 - 2003.

£300,000 - 400,000 ‡♠

Sold for £555,000

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova
Director, Specialist
Head of Day Sale
+44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 3 October 2019