Blotter card

Copyright The Artist


WAG 1993.81

Currently not on display


A solitary man gazes at his reflection in a frozen lake. Peter Doig based this painting on a photo he'd taken of his brother in Canada, after pumping water onto the ice to make it more reflective. It's called 'Blotter' - referring partly to the way he's soaked watery paint into the canvas. The painting is a moment literally frozen in time. But it perhaps also hints at change and transformation in its depiction of water in different states - liquid, snow and solid ice - and even different degrees of freezing within the ice, from transparent to opaque. To convey contrasting textures Doig has applied paint in a variety of ways - brushing, dribbling and spattering. And, given water is supposed to be colourless, and snow white, he uses a surprising number of vivid colours. About the big white blobs Doig says 'They read as voids... that refer back to the picture's beginnings, to the nothingness of painting.' 'Blotter' also refers to the way the man is absorbed into the landscape - and in himself. Doig intended him to be both ordinary and extraordinary - thinking about nothing, or a deep dilemma. The halfway-point shoreline, directly behind his head, hints at the mind's ability to travel between different worlds. In Canada 'blotter' can mean the carrier - blotting-paper - used to soak up and share drugs like LSD. Doig says that like that, the picture 'functions as a carrier'. And that by making or looking at a painting '...we too are trying to get away from the ordinary.' With its high, bold horizon this painting is reminiscent of Monet. Monet's painting of ice on the River Seine is in Room Ten. 'Blotter' won the 1993 John Moores Painting Prize, launching Doig's career. He's now one of the world's most sought-after British artists. You can hear about the John Moores with Alexis Harding's painting on our tour.