this issue contains
>> Drifter: An Interview with Peter Doig
>> Magical Mystery Tour
>> Interview Ilya and Emilia Kabakov
>> Time Travels: Abetz & Drescher

>> archive

 

Peter Doig: Pelican (Stag), 2003 Courtesy Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Photo: Jochen Littkemann


Because it opens up the subject and leads the viewer into distraction?

It depends on the process, when you look at it after a while and you still regard it as exciting. But there are other coincidences: Bernhart Schwenk, who wrote the essay in the catalogue for the Munich exhibition, referred to Edouard Manet's The Absinthe Drinker in relation to my painting Metropolitain (House of Pictures) on which you can see the Honore Daumier-like character. So I looked at that Manet painting and I realized for the first time that there was a bottle in the foreground, almost in the same place - and that works as well. Maybe Manet had put it there for similar reasons.

You're thinking of a chain where one artist is historically linked to another?

It doesn't need any verification, it's just by coincidence, although it has this strong force that's driving it towards something. It's more about connections rather than influences or didactics or narratives.

Peter Doig: Pelican, 2003 Courtesy Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Photo: Jochen Littkemann


On the other hand, you did a painting where you can see a very small swimmer in the ocean and a very huge stone in the foreground. Is there a special spatial relationship between these two elements, too?

It's a challenge when you play with scales. But again it wasn't a game using these scales as a trick to make the painting work. The person represented in the ocean was there first, and I had to keep changing the size of the figure. It's based on Jonathan Meese, who came to Trinidad for a visit. I took him out to this very remote beach and he stayed in the water for hours, just standing in the waves. I think for him it was very cathartic, he was kind of lost. Anyway, it wasn't to make him pose or anything. But there's something else to it, all the figures in the paintings represent certain types of male personae, some more vulnerable than others and some more macho. Think of the man with the pink umbrella, I can't be very specific about it, it's just that I feel the need to find a way to have these persons relate to the space created by the painting.

Peter Doig: Music of the Future, 2004 Courtesy Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Photo: Jochen Littkemann


In the past you had specific sites: Le Corbusier's buildings, ponds, a hilly countryside for skiing. It's never about the actual topography, but more of an indeterminate landscape that can be loaded up with atmosphere. It seems as though you take these sites and combine them as though they were in imaginary walking distance.

There was a strange story that happened to me during one night in Trinidad. The drive shaft on my car broke, so I had to wait for the tow truck. After a few minutes two Indians asked if they could give me some company, because it's pretty dangerous in this place, especially at night. So we sat and waited, having a conversation about where they came from, because 40% of Trinidad's population are of Indian origin. So I asked them: Where do you come from? San Fernando, was their reply. No, I mean, where do you come from in India? Then one looked at the other and said: "Well, I don't know and I never thought about that." For me this is in some ways a fortune, when you don't have this baggage that we in Europe are so used to.

Because you don't have a home when you are an artist - except the art itself?

No, the origin is not of interest in terms of nation or country.

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