Monday, 17 August 2015

Peter Doig at Palazzetto Tito

Peter Doig's show at Palazzetto Tito is either the best thing at this year's Venice Biennale or it's an irretrievable, living relic.

Rain in the Port of Spain (White Oak), 2015

Peter Doig’s show at Palazzetto Tito is a neat, clean and sublime experience. The work is sparsely hung, a delight to walk around; the paintings vary in scale but not in intensity. Each one functions as a window into a world where dreamscapes are elevated, the painter within his palace embalmed in a vivid palette.

Seeing his paintings in the flesh within this environment, the intensity of each piece hummed. They were like Faberge eggs, the colours stained the canvas and transcended not only the environment, but the strokes and marks that created them.

Faces leer out, a cacophony of noise, a slippage of emotion. A visceral pleasure, like the touch of a hand, a therapeutic, scented oil rubbed into a brow.

Spearfisher, 2015

A beautifully uplifting show in a light drenched Palazzetto, a highlight of Venice for me. This was the first show I saw in the endurance triathlon that is the Biennale and all the surrounding events. This year was a particularly dreary Biennale, trying to identify with the displacement of war, this subsequently snuffed much of the artists' freedoms out, instead we were dictated a theme which forced upon us a particular tempo. 

The Doig exhibition benefitted from being dislodged from the Giardinni and Arsenale, existing completely separately. Instead we give ourselves up to the artist as opposed to an overly choreographed opera. Here the artist takes centre stage and the curator’s interventions remain modest.

Doig’s paintings look like they are perpetually in motion. A painter in his prime, revelling in the pure delight of gesture, colour and composition, which all transcends into an unforgettable experience.

He has completely immersed himself in this role of the early 19th century painter, bringing to mind Paul Gauguin. Doig spent time in Trinidad for a few years as a young child and moved there permanently in 2002. There he has created a bubble for himself where he seems to be revisiting the notion of the artist in exile. Any suggestion of a genius is obsolete, our current environment is in constant flux, but Doig’s is not, his premise is to make good painting.

Spearfishing, 2013

The Faberge egg analogy draws to mind the Russian Tsars who commissioned them, and the parallel elitist world where Doig exists within the art market. For some the paintings are irretrievably tarnished by the immense monetary value placed upon them and Doig's lack of acknowledgment of this within his practice; that henceforth the language he talks is no longer tenable. The revolution is yet to happen. Is there a place for this work to exist outside the art market or am I mourning a living relic?

The fourteen works on show in Palazzetto Tito are all washed in magic, soaked into paper and canvas. It’s the best thing in Venice. Doig’s language speaks of memory and dreamscapes, allowing you to meander within his fragmented fictions. His work is drenched in optimism, a covenant between paint and the artist, transmitted into a euphoric sensuality in viewing.

Rebecca Gould

On display at Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa's Palazetto Tito (Venice) May 4th - October 4th 2015.

Gould’s visit to Venice was made possible with a Travel Grant awarded by Wales Arts International.

Horse and Rider, 2014

Images are all courtesy of the artist and Michael Werner Gallery, London and New York.

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