MONTREAL — “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign,” according to Robert Louis Stevenson.
And so opens the colorful tropical impressionistic stylings of “Peter Doig: No Foreign Lands,” presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
It’s the first major exhibition of the artist’s work since his retrospective shown at London’s Tate Britain and the first of its kind to be presented in North America, a press release states. The exhibit displays more than 100 works created by Doig in the past 14 years and includes 40 major paintings.
Doig himself is a traveler of the world. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Doig moved with his family as a youngster to Trinidad, then Canada, studied art in London, lived and worked in Montreal in the 1980s, and moved back to Trinidad where he has lived since 2002.
Doig explores an everyday sensibility in his tropical paradise. His paintings on the surface, filled with lush vegetation and blue seas, appear colorful and inviting. But upon deeper inspection, there’s not exactly trouble in paradise but rather inspiration often from a deeper meaning.
For example, Doig was inspired to paint his “Pelican” works after witnessing a man killing a pelican, supposedly for food, on a beach in Trinidad. And for “100 Years Ago” painted in 2001, the accompanying text states that Doig revisited the canoe imagery first inspired by a dream-like sequence from the film “Friday the 13th.”
Doig interprets an array of dreamscapes and also seems to have a penchant for ping pong. The sport appears in a variety of works both large and small, no less than a dozen or so times within the exhibition with geometric patterns — nets, balls, paddles — taking center canvas.
The space also shows a lighthearted collection of posters painted by Doig for SudioFilmClub, a weekly repertory cinema movie night where Doig and Trinidadian artist Che Lovelace screen DVDs at Doig’s studio at the Caribbean Contemporary Arts cultural center. Films such as “Black Orpheus,” “L’Avventura” and “Some Like it Hot” all enjoy a colorful abstract Doig interpretation.