Red Man


Oil on paper on vellum and board

117 × 74 cm (46 1/16 × 29 1/8 in)

A man with indistinct features, dressed only in a bright red, retro bathing suit, faces us, standing out against a seafront. For this work entitled Red Man, Peter Doig was inspired by a photograph of the American actor Robert Mitchum taken in Trinidad, where the painter has lived since 2002, a year that marked “a turning point in his painting.”

This male representation, with its powerful build, in a bather's outfit, appears repeatedly in his work. The title explicitly refers to the expression used by locals to describe people with light skin, such as the actor and the painter. The work is captivating because of the artist's treatment of the eyes and mouth with heavy, dark flat colours, which contrast with the pale pink skin. Peter Doig plays with the materials by juxtaposing them and alternating colours of intense luminosity to create dreamlike, enigmatic atmospheres.

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.

This work is presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection in the exhibition "Ouverture" at the Bourse de Commerce in 2021.