Peter Doig, 'Figure by a Pool', 2008-2012. Oil and distemper on linen. 98 1/2 x 78 3/4 inches. 250 x 200 cm. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London. Although featuring recognisable forms such as buildings and figures in landscapes, the rich and romantic paintings of the Scottish-born, Trinidad-based artist Peter Doig seem less a record of the world than an attempt to paint memories, or maybe dreams.
In a small show of recent works at Michael Werner’s first-floor gallery in Mayfair – the inaugural exhibitions for Werner’s London space – two large-scale paintings show the same figure walking by a pool, the same two legs upside-down in the water as if someone has just dived in.
But both the radiant colours of the works and the specifics of the landscapes differ; it is as if those figures are precisely recalled, fixed in time, while the environment in which they once were set is hazy, fluid, open to interpretation and imagination.
Peter Doig, 'Cricket Painting (Paragrand)', 2006-2012. Oil on canvas. 118 1/4 x 78 3/4 inches. 300 x 200 cm. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London.
Cricket Painting (Paragrand) (2006–12) is the most captivating work in the show; its bright orange background remains seared on to your retina for hours after you leave the gallery space.
It shows a female and male figure in an impromptu game of Caribbean cricket, the stumps a kaleidoscopic patchwork quilt, and a ghostly form – perhaps a real wicket keeper, perhaps an imagined one – hovering in the background. The ball hangs in the air in suspense.
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and contributor to RA Magazine