Echo Lake is one of twenty works produced by contemporary artists for the Cubitt Print Box in 2000. Cubitt is an artist-run gallery and studio complex in north London. In 2001 the complex moved from King’s Cross to Islington and the prints were commissioned as part of a drive to raise funds to help finance the move, and to support future exhibitions and events at the new gallery space. All the artists who contributed to the project had previously taken part in Cubitt’s programme. The portfolio was produced in an edition of 100 with twenty artists’ proofs; Tate’s copy is number sixty-six in the series.
This etching, executed in grey-green ink on soft porous paper, depicts a nocturnal scene. A man in a white shirt and dark tie and trousers stands on the edge of a lake, his arms raised to his head in a gesture that suggests he is shouting into the night. His face is blank and featureless. Behind him and to the left an American police car dominates the top third of the image. The car is positioned so that it too appears to look out into the lake. The dark landscape in which the figure and car are set is conveyed with abstract swirls. Eddying water reflects the man and the spindly branches of a tree on the far right of the image. The lake takes up more than half of the image. The low perspective suggests that the vantage point of the image is from the surface of the lake rather than the distant shore.
This work is one of a series of images made by Doig on the same subject, the most notable of which is the large scale painting Echo Lake, 1998 (Tate T07467). The image of a policeman desperately shouting out into a lake is derived from the artist’s memory of the final scene in the horror movie Friday the 13th, 1980, directed by Sean S. Cunningham (born 1941). Doig completed several versions of this image and a companion image depicting a girl slumped over the side of a floating canoe, both of which were inspired by a dream-like sequence at the end of the film. Doig has discussed his use of images from popular culture, saying, ‘I guess in some ways I am trying to recover something from such a seemingly banal source, and trying to invest it with some sort of emotional resonance’ (quoted in Matthew Higgs, ‘Peter Doig – 20 Questions’, Peter Doig, p.18).
It is typical of Doig’s practice to make variations on particular motifs in paintings, drawings and prints. In this instance the representational elements of the large painting are reconfigured: whereas the painting is horizontal in format and cinematic in scale the vertical format of the print is more intimate. The painting’s format emphasises the landscape of the lake shore. The print resembles a cropped version of the painting, emphasising the alienation of the solitary figure.
The policeman’s gesture recalls the existential cry of the figure in the iconic painting The Scream, 1893 (National Gallery, Oslo) by Edvard Munch (1863-1944), an image which was also re-worked several times by its artist. The serpentine lines of Doig’s print recall Munch’s expressionistic printmaking style, suggesting that this particular version of Echo Lake is an homage to the Norwegian artist.
Paula van den Bosch and Catherine Grenier, Peter Doig: Charley’s Space, exhibition catalogue, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht and Carré d’Art – Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes, 2003.
Kitty Scott, Johanne Sloan and Matthew Higgs, Peter Doig, exhibition catalogue, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia, 2001.
Beatrix Ruf, Peter Doig: Version, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthaus Glarus, 1999.