Bather (Night Wave)


Dispersion on linen

254 × 204 cm (100 × 80 5/16 × 1 3/4 in.)

The black sky illuminated by a “golden sickle” moon is met by a frothy white sea and a beach of radiant, acidic orange. After this mysterious, fantasized midnight bath, the figure of the bather stands in the centre of the canvas. His facial features are blurred by the paint, and his hands are joined in an enigmatic gesture. The shadow of a presence beyond the frame, also shrouded in mystery, appears on his thighs and legs.

These swimming scenes, these bathers, as well as the presence of water, of the shore, are recurrent in Peter Doig's work. In the background, as if in response to the silhouette of the island, a naked woman lies on the beach, like a Venus rolled onto the shore, an apparition. This nocturnal, insular image, the strength of the colours, the presence of black, these apparitions, this magical atmosphere, this enigmatic anxiety: everything recalls the Polynesian paintings of Paul Gauguin.

The works of Peter Doig (born 17 April 1959 in Edinburgh) most often depict figures within landscapes—often motifs from Trinidad or Canada where Doig grew up. They also draw on an iconography of personal or found documents: newspaper clippings or pop culture imagery such as album covers and movie posters. Between memories, dreams, and associations, these paintings are “worlds unto themselves, an apotheosis of presence, of being there,” which continue to exert a deep magnetism long after their discovery. His paintings are like inner visions which leave the visitor with an ambiguous feeling.

Bather (Night Wave) is presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection in the exhibition "Ouverture" at the Bourse de Commerce in 2021.