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Peter Doig, Michael Werner review - ambiguous and excellent

There are two moons in Night Bathers, 2019 (pictured below) One is set in the sky, a great soupy plate with a greenish fringe creating an ugly smear of white across the night. The other is a treacherously hazy rectangle, floating like a cloud above a reclining bather — so inexplicable it could double as a cataract. The latter is, perhaps, a reflection of the former, but at a surreal remove — no reflection looks like that, no reflected light would fall there. The twinned moons, however — real and oneiric — neatly explain the power of Doig’s paintings.

Fourteen are now on show across two floors at Michael Werner Gallery in Mayfair. Within them are to be discerned myths and lore, personal memories, and historical events. They set forth Doig’s ability to move between temporalities and yoke together different interpretative registers. In the context of a country still marked by its colonial history, the doubtfulness that Doig encourages in his paintings is generative. The Scottish artist, who spent six of his childhood years in Trinidad and Tobago, returned for a residency in 2000 and since 2002 has lived between Trinidad and New York. He’s sensitive to the country’s history his own complicated place within it, writing in 2013 in a letter, “I believe that most of my works made in Trinidad question my being there and also why things are as they are.” To be able to see gaps and contradictions is to be wise to the limits of subjective knowledge, without such self-reflection, hubris finds sanction...

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