Peter Doig is a contemporary artist born in Scotland. In 2007, a painting of Doig's, entitled White Canoe, sold at Sotheby's for $11.3 million, then an auction record for a living European artist.
Peter Doig was born in Edinburgh, and in 1962 moved with his family to Trinidad, where his father worked with a shipping and trading company, and then in 1966 to Canada. He went to London in 1979 to study fine art at the Wimbledon School of Art, St Martin's School of Art (where he became friends with the artist Billy Childish) and Chelsea School of Art, where he received an MA. In the mid-1980s he lived and worked in Montreal. In 1993 Doig won the first prize at the John Moores exhibition with his painting Blotter. This brought public recognition, cemented in 1994, when he was nominated for the Turner Prize. In 1999 he selected EASTinternational with Roy Arden. From 1995 to 2000 he was a trustee of the Tate Gallery.
In 2002, Doig moved back to Trinidad, where he set up a studio at the Caribbean Contemporary Arts centre near Port of Spain, and also became professor at the fine arts academy in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Many of Doig's pictures are landscapes, very abstract, with a number harking back to the snowy scenes of his childhood in Canada. Doig's landscapes are splendidly layered formally and conceptually, and draw on assorted artists from art history, including Edvard Munch and Claude Monet to Friedrich and Klimt.
His works are frequently based on found photographs (and sometimes of his own), but are not painted in a photorealist style, Doig instead using the photographs simply for reference. In a 2008 interview, Doig referred to his use of photographs and postcards as painting "by proxy" and noted that his paintings "made no attempt to reflect setting."
Doig is best known for his series of paintings of Le Corbusier's modernist communal living apartments known as l'Unite d'Habitation located at Briety-en-Foret, in France. The modern urban structures are partially revealed and hidden by the forest that surrounds them. As Doig explains: "When you walk through an urban environment, you take the strangeness of the architecture for granted".
Peter Doig's work captures moments of tranquillity, which contrast with uneasy oneiric elements. He uses unusual colour combinations and depicts scenes from unexpected angles, all contributing to give his work a magic realist feel. In The Architect's Home in the Ravine the thick undergrowth partly obscures the house. It is the play of twig-like shapes and range of colours overlapping the building which one notices. His scenes that involve lakes with canoes, cabins tucked away in the woods, and skiers dotting mountain scenery are his most well-known subjects.
In 2003, Doig started a weekly film club called StudioFilmClub in his studio together with Trinidadian artist Che Lovelace. Doig not only selects and screens the films; he also paints the poster advertising the week's film. He told an interviewer that he finds this ongoing project liberating because it's "much more immediate" than his usual work.
In 2005 he was one of the artists exhibited in part 1 of The Triumph of Painting at the Saatchi Gallery in London.
In 2007, a painting of Doig's, entitled White Canoe, sold at Sotheby's for $11.3 million, then an auction record for a living European artist. Paul Schimmel, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles said in an interview that the sale made Doig go from being "a hero to other painters to a poster child of the excesses of the market."
In 2008, a retrospective of his work (entitled "Peter Doig") was held at Tate Britain (February-May) and the Paris Museum of Modern Art (June-September) and the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt (October 8-January, 2009)
Doig is teaching at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf.