Following Peter Doig's tenure, albeit brief, as 'Europe's most expensive living artist', the Scottish painter could be forgiven for just sitting back and cranking out more of the same. Certainly, there's a lot that's familiar in his first commercial show since that sale ($11m at auction in 2007): the hazy, luminous, incongruous colours; the feeling of tropical humidity, as befits his adopted home of Trinidad; and the several dreamlike images of canoes, one of his trademark, recurring motifs.
None of which is to say that the works themselves aren't hugely impressive – even apart from their occasionally gigantic size. Doig is an absolute master at a certain type of languid-yet-epic depiction, where different colours melt together, and figures melt into background colour, and shimmering outlines barely seem able to contain the pooling, liquid essence of things.
Yet for all that, the most compelling single work sees Doig moving in a new direction. He's always been interested in quotation and iconography, of course – the sense of half-remembering or somehow internalising images from photographs and movies. But in 'Painting for Wall Painters', the largest piece here, the subject matter itself consists of icons: namely, dozens of different flags painted on a street wall. With their bright colours, they stand out dramatically against the grey cement and overcast sky; yet, at the same time, the scene's regular, rectilinear, tightly defined composition gives the sense of controlling and moderating such exuberance – reining in the messy play of fantasy, in favour of a more regimented, literalist depiction. The result, in this context, feels bracing, refreshing, and utterly magnificent.
THE BOTTOM LINE: An assured artist, but still pushing possibilities.