doig’s ghost world


Peter Doig painted Echo Lake in 1998. A man stands on the far side of a stretch of dark water. He is quite a way off, but you can see that he wears a white shirt and a dark tie. His hands are raised to his face. Is it to keep the light out of his eyes as he looks at you? Or is it to project his voice as he shouts? A police car, lights on, is parked behind him. Beyond the car the black-green of a band of trees is broken by a few bright spots; they could be streetlights or house lights half-obscured by foliage. It must be night time. Are they crime-scene floodlights that shine across the lake, on the man, grass, rocks and car?

Although the scenes shown in this painting and others by Peter Doig (the retrospective of his work runs until 27 April) seem to imply that curious things have gone before, and that others will follow, there is no reason to think you will ever know what the pictures signify. Like ghost stories, they draw on the potency of matters unresolved; it hangs about them like an unearthed static charge.

more from the LRB here.