Lot 10
  • 10

Peter Doig

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
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  • Peter Doig
  • Ski-Jacket
  • signed, titled, dated Aug 93 and variously inscribed on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 46.6 by 50.5cm.; 18 3/8 by 19 7/8 in.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1993


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is warmer in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Very close inspection reveals extremely minor and unobtrusive canvas draw to the top right corner and a very short hairline crack towards the lower right corner. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultra-violet light.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

"I often paint scenes with snow because snow somehow has this effect of drawing you inwards and is frequently used to suggest retrospection and nostalgia and make-believe"

Peter Doig quoted in: Paul Bonaventura, 'A Hunter in the Snow', Artefactum, No. 9, 1994, p. 12.

Peter Doig's landscapes of snow constitute the most magisterial and captivating from his extraordinary painterly practice. Sharing the very same title as the unmitigated masterpiece from this cycle – a work that prestigiously resides in the Tate Collection – Ski Jacket is suffused with the confetti-like dynamism that characterises its iconic bigger sister. Executed one year prior to the Tate’s painting, the present work represents the pictorial kernel for its monumental successor. The almost aerial treatment of miniscule and multi-coloured skiers coursing their way through serpentine slopes between banks of fir trees strongly corresponds to the centre right section of its larger counterpart. This intimately scaled piece is replete with the same painterly shorthand, jewel-like layering of colour and diaphanous application of washes. Nonetheless, it is a work that possesses a uniquely succint homogeneity, and evinces the unequivocal traits particular to Doig's best work. With Ski Jacket, memory is melded with imagination and landscape becomes dreamscape as we drift along with the snow into the realm of nostalgia.

For the large Ski Jacket, Doig arrived at his subject matter almost by chance. Drawn to a slender black and white image of a busy Japanese ski resort found in a Toronto newspaper, Doig enlarged, abstracted, replicated and reflected the grainy newsprint reproduction from which he endeavoured to capture the grandeur and epic beauty of a ski-slope mountainside. Following a small number of studies and works on paper – as well as the present painting – the monumental Ski Jacket took shape. These works thus announce the very moment that snow and skiing become a leitmotif in Doig's practice; shortly following in 1996 he created a dedicated series of snow/ski paintings for an exhibition entitled Freestyle at Victoria Miro Gallery. However, where works from the series, such as Orange Sunshine or Telemarker (Pas de Chevres), focus on a single skier or snowboarder, in Ski Jacket Doig portrays countless diminutive figures painted in miniature through "little flicks of colour" (Peter Doig quoted in: Adrian Searle, Kitty Scott and Catherine Grenier, Peter Doig, London 2007, p. 14).

In contrast to his heavily layered works, the mountainside corpus is characterised by an overwhelming sense of clarity and expansiveness. As Doig recalls, "When I made the first skiing paintings, they were made as a reaction to things I had made previously, paintings with a proliferation of matter on the surface of the canvas. I had wanted to get away from that device of always 'looking through', whether it be trees, branches or snow – into the painting. It could have become manneristic. I wanted to make things more open" (Ibid., p. 135). Ski Jacket and its counterparts are a consummate example of this sense of the 'open'. 

Led by the serpentine winding of the wide ski-run, the lack of horizon and flattened perspective of this work collapses and condenses space, enveloping the viewer's field of view in a dichotomous tension between distance and proximity. Doig has said of these works: "I used the way that you perceive things when you are in the mountains; for example when you are feeling warm in an otherwise cold environment, and how the light is often extreme and accentuated by wearing different coloured goggles. I've used that as a way of accentuating the colours in the paintings, to the extent that they appear seemingly psychedelic" (Ibid., p. 140). The consuming and iridescent whiteness of Doig's canvas is punctuated with streaks and jewel-like flecks of pink, yellow and green. As though seen through "rose-tinted goggles" Ski Jacket delivers an experience of the mountains imbued with the fantastical quailty of a dream (Ibid.).

Though Doig has admitted taking influence from Claude Monet, these paintings nonetheless veer dramatically away from their art historical antecedent. Contra to the en plein air execution of the aforementioned fin de siècle painter, Doig, one century on, paints from a visual archive of pictures and photographs culled from newspapers, postcards, film stills and album covers. His re-interpretation of photography and film defines his practice as a fundamentally post-modern enterprise that knowingly appropriates pre-existing visual codes. Related but dislocated from the art of appropriation, however, Doig’s paintings are unequivocal products of the imagination: mass consumed images are melded with personal photographs and memory to engender works that belong to the realm of collective dream and reverie. There is an unmistakably emotive tension redolent in these works that echoes the father of psychologically charged painting – Edvard Munch.  Driven by memory yet comingled with a collective shared-experience, Ski Jacket and its counterparts deliver a truly multidimensional and masterful meditation on the theme of epic landscape as passed through the photographic lens of modern technology, the prism of art history and powerfully mediated by the imagination.