One of the world’s most expensive living painters has recently moved to London, and as a welcoming present, the Courtauld has given over two of its refurbished galleries to show off his art.

Although Peter Doig was born in Scotland, his family moved to Trinidad and later to Canada. He trained as an artist in London, but moved back to his childhood home, Trinidad in 2000 and lived there until fairly recently.

He’s notable for being terrifically unfashionable at the turn of the millennium, painting people instead of putting dead sharks in tanks or making plaster casts of security cameras — and is now considered to be a leading figurative painter.

Opening with a huge self-portrait where he’s standing in front of one of his paintings in the same pose as the subject, the exhibition is sparse in paintings to look at, mainly because they’re huge and it doesn’t take that many to fill the gallery.

A huge painting of an alpine skier in a harlequin outfit is based on an old postcard, but gained recent fame when a certain Harry Styles coincidentally turned up to an event in a similar outfit.

Many of the works in the show are brand new, having been completed in the run up to the exhibition. Most are still referencing his time in Trinidad, but one wall is given over to his first London-centric piece, a stylised representation of the Regent’s Canal near where he lives. The bright red bridge was a pale orange just a few days before the exhibition opened, but the artist painted over it again and again until he was happy.

A separate room away from the paintings includes a large collection of sketches, and one of his cinema posters is mirrored on the other side of the room by a sketch that looks very similar, although the sketch is based on the painting, not the other way round.

Many of the artworks reference his life in Trinidad, where he would set up a small cinema in his studio each week and invite people into watch movies or when he would play music for parties.

Overall, what the display shows is a moment in time, when the artist transitions from finishing off the last of his Trinidad paintings and settling into painting London.

The exhibition, Peter Doig, is at the Courtauld Gallery until 29th May.

Entry to the exhibiton and the rest of the Courthauld is in one ticket:

  • Adult: £14
  • Student: £4.50
  • Children: Free

Tickets can be booked in advance from here, but you can buy them on the day.


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