I have been reading a book about Peter Doig, an artist I greatly admire. The book is about his 2008 Show at the Tate Britain, and features many of his disquieting landscapes. In the book, I spotted a painting that I had seen in person at the National Gallery in Ottawa. This painting, Grand Rivere, is a dark and jungly landscape that suggests a mysterious narrative. It’s huge and gorgeous and slightly disconcerting, and held the whole wall of the museum room. On the opposite wall was a large scale painting by another artist that I admire, Landon Mackenzie. This painting was also dark, a blue darkness with glowing highlights.
I must have looked like a crazed puppy at a tennis court, as I scrambled across from one painting to the other, admiring the details in turn. The paintings shared a darkness and a mystery, but situating them across from one another was brilliant as it created an artistic synergy in the room, a vertiable force field. The paintings were superficially similar, but the differences were intriguing:
I love to read about art, but not as much as I enjoy exhibitions. Seeing paintings in person is always worthwhile, but seeing paintings in juxtaposition adds an unexpected dimension.