Peter Doig, Contemplating Culture, 1985, oil on canvas, 76 3/4 × 95".

Peter Doig

Michael Werner | London

Peter Doig, Contemplating Culture, 1985, oil on canvas, 76 3/4 × 95".

What did Peter Doig paint before he became the artist we all know? “Peter Doig: Early Works” showed, in twelve paintings and thirty-eight works on paper, his development from the early 1980s, when he was an art student in London, to the more contemplative and romantic landscape works he started to make later in the decade.

The earlier works evoke a young man who enjoys urban bustle and nightlife, who is eager to study art but quick to mock a too-serious approach to the classics. The lines and brushstrokes are rapid, the figures cartoony, as in Mr. Courbet, 1984, which shows a guy ready to lick a woman’s vagina, and clearly refers to L’Origine du monde, 1866. Chez Paree, 1986, is a bigger canvas depicting a man having a drink in a nightclub (Doig once lived above one). On his left, a woman is bending over, exposing her backside and legs and red high heels. On his right, a classical

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