The title of Peter Doig’s exhibition No Foreign Lands is taken from Robert Louis Stevenson’s observation that ‘There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign’. It is clear that Doig is preoccupied with the idea of the foreign, the other and the outsider as this exhibition - celebrating the last 10 years of his work - is highly influenced by his move to Trinidad in 2002. Walking through the exhibition’s eight rooms takes you on a journey through his work from his time in Canada and London to the present day. Occupying a whole floor of the Scottish National Gallery, both the scale and volume of Doig’s work is impressive and the chronological layout makes for a fascinating insight into Doig’s development as an artist.
The monumental scale of Doig’s paintings immediately makes a striking impact. His use of vivid, bold colours and depiction of the exotic is reminiscent of Gauguin and lends an intensity and vibrancy to his work. The abstract style of his figures are hauntingly beautiful, particularly the figure depicted in 100 Years Ago (Carrera) 2001 - one of his iconic images. This painting depicts a lone figure on a canoe looking out towards the observer. The blurred outline of the face gives the piece a hazy, dream-like quality and is representative of the artist’s interest in the relationship between memory and reality that is made evident within much of his work.
From the almost theatrical use of figures to his apparent interest in geometric shapes, Doig’s developmental progression is evident to all: Each room clearly displays a distinctive leap in style and form. From bold, block colours to pale, muted tones, each room offers something markedly different. However, what is apparent within all of Doig’s work is his interest in the everyday lives of the people he has encountered in his extensive amount of travelling.
Peter Doig’s extensive collection of work is well worth having a look at. The hallucinogenic quality to his work ensures that this exhibition is highly entrancing. His exotic, mysterious, and in many ways menacing depictions are not to be missed.