Peter Doig: No Foreign Lands

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, January 24-May 4, 2014
Experience a virtual tour of the exhibition here.

An excerpt of my review of the exhibition written for C Magazine 123 (2014):

Looking at the paintings alongside my child, I was reminded that landscape is a learned pictorial convention. If visual language (like spoken language) is something we absorb from our environment, how is the Museum as the mediator of my child’s experience contributing to his nascent understanding of place? Doig’s large-scale paintings received a spacious hanging throughout the Museum’s Beaux-Arts architecture, this reinforced our contemplation of “landscape” as representations of a self-contained world existing elsewhere. However, my son’s inability to “see” the overall composition in each of Doig’s paintings meant that he focused on the fragments to which he could put words, such as “tree” or “bird.” This denaturalization of the picture caused me to wonder how Doig’s rummaging through the detritus of both a global popular culture and the global legacies of modernist painting challenge us to think of ourselves as foreign travelers in lands already occupied by other people and their memories.

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