Two Palms is pleased to announce the release of two new editions by Peter Doig. The etchings support a collaborative artists book project by Peter Doig and the Nobel prize-winning poet Derek Walcott.
"Lion in the Road" and "Painting a Cloud on the Wall" are familiar themes to admirers of Doig’s paintings: psychological landscapes combining his Trinidadian island life, artistic references (Daumier, Cézanne, Guston, De Chirico, Picasso), and local mythology.
“I took lots and lots of photographs of the lions at the zoo in Trinidad—the first zoo I went to as a child growing up there. It hasn’t changed much. The idea for the lion comes from seeing depictions of the Rastafarian Lion of Judah on the walls of buildings, galvanized fences and T-shirts in Port of Spain. The iconography of the Lion of Judah is something you see quite often. It’s a stand-in for a painting of Christ. I got attracted to the different interpretations of this mythic figure and the fact that people would leave them on the wall. These lion drawings have nothing to do with graffiti—they aren’t stylized or generic—but more to do with someone trying to interpret the lion from their imagination. The prison you see is the one in the middle of Port of Spain…built by the British as their detention center and it takes up a whole city block. I’ve never been inside but I know people who have, unfortunately, and it’s a pretty grim place. In the cells you are very aware of the streets so I began to think about what it must be like to be in there where you can hear the city and especially at Carnival time, when you can hear the music and revelry but you’re locked away. Seeing this poor lion in the zoo banging his head against one of the doors of his cage, I thought about the lion being inside of the cage and outside of the prison and flipped them. The prison is almost like this Colman’s mustard powder yellow color and it’s like a yellow abstract painting in its own right. There aren’t many yellow paintings around. Of course you think of Van Gogh’s sunflowers and chair and also of the yellow house he painted. I was thinking about all of those things. I was making up a narrative but wanted it to be very open.”
from A Guided Preview of New Peter Doig Show, W Magazine, Diane Solway, 5 November 2015
A masterful printmaker with decades of experience in the print shop, Doig lets the images evolve slowly through the copper etching process using a myriad of techniques: drypoint, spit-bite, sugar-lift, gravure and aquatint. The printing plates progressed through at least a dozen states, and the resulting imagery reveals intensive experimentation with acid, varnish, solvents and novel methods of transfer.
The poet Derek Walcott, born and raised in nearby St. Lucia, has written fifty-one poems in response to Doig's paintings, a dialogue on the Caribbean’s colonial legacy, politics, and the sheer physical beauty of island life. Several of the poems refer to Doig's theme of a lion In the streets.
A Lion is in the Streets
“Oh the Lion of Judah shall break every chain
And give us the victory again and again.”
Bass drum and kettle drum and brass cornet
backed the Salvation Army choir, black, few and scrawny
at Chisel Street corner, seventy years ago. It breaks
my heart quietly every time I hear it,
my brother gone, sister, mother, all that Time takes
except the cornet’s high triumphant spirit
that kept their uniforms white and the pith helmet.
Tambourines rattled the stars on Chisel Street,
The lion and its melody were well-met;
For my mother, sewing, there was no defeat.
The cornet’s pitch proclaimed her faith in patience
I know I remember it as Selassie’s song,
That little man whom the drums made a lion
However much Mussolini did him wrong,
Standing on a box before the League of Nations.