- Peter Doig born 1959
- Lithograph on paper
- Image: 960 x 608 mm
- Lent by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of Angela K. Westwater 2012
On long term loan
Untitled 2006 is a large colour lithograph by the Scottish painter Peter Doig. The work depicts a small figure climbing a palm tree that towers diagonally across the composition from the lower centre to the top left corner. There is an unsettled stillness and vulnerability to the small, anonymous and startled figure clinging to the trunk and staring directly out at the viewer. The tree is dark green, silhouetted against a bleached sky and is topped with palm fronds and coconuts. Catching the light behind it stands a hazy and larger palm tree, loosely marked out in a pale yellow-green. The sky is empty and stark apart from a distant bird flying high above the figure’s head. Cropped like a photograph, sharp tips of leaves from two other palm trees jut out from the right edge of the image.
Doig habitually works from a range of photographic sources including film, snapshots and postcards depicting both popular culture and art historical images. These found images are then distilled, altered, copied or cropped by the artist. In this work Doig used a photograph he had taken of a boy shinning up a palm tree while on his first visit to the Caribbean island of Trinidad, where he has lived since 1992. Unusually, this print directly references Trinidad, while many works made by Doig since his move to the Caribbean draw their tropical imagery from different locations. Doig is interested in images that have a universal potency and collective familiarity rather than a specific narrative. Characteristic of Doig’s work, this image implies an intriguing but intangible narrative, evoking the possibility that something has either just happened or is about to take place.
Doig often revisits motifs and imagery in his paintings; lone figures and palm trees have surfaced in key oil paintings of the period including Pelican 2004 (private collection) and Metropolitan (House of Pictures) 2004 (Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich). In contrast to his dense paintings of snowy and forested Canadian landscapes from the 1990s (such as Ski Jacket 1994, Tate T06962, and Echo Lake 1998, Tate T07467), Doig’s paintings executed in Trinidad are characterised by restrained compositions and the layering of thin washes of colour, painterly qualities he has translated into this lithograph print using five colour plates. Doig’s printmaking bears a strong relationship to his painting. He often makes a print before a large-scale painting as a way to get acquainted with his subject and imagery. This print relates directly in subject matter and composition to the painting Untitled 2006 (private collection, reproduced Tate Britain 2008, p.102). However, in this instance, the print was executed after the painting, which is evidenced by its more refined and dramatic composition. The portrait format and panned out viewpoint of the print compress the image accentuate the height of the palm trees and emphasise the isolation and alienation of the anonymous figure.
This print is signed, dated ‘06’ and editioned ‘3/20’ in pencil in the lower border. Published by Landfall Press in collaboration with SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico, the print was produced to raise funds towards the organisation’s Sixth International Biennial Still Points of the Turning World in 2007, in which Doig’s related aforementioned painting Untitled 2006 was included.
Judith Nesbitt, Peter Doig, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2008.