Tokyo Modern Art Museum’s exhibition of paintings by Peter Doig, the contemporary Scottish painter described as “the painter’s painter”, has been extended until October 10th.

If you have a chance, I recommend you go and have a look at Doig’s paintings. They are beguiling, absorbing, fascinating pictures. They have a dream-like quality to them; a sense of déjà vu, not just on a personal level, but on an artistic level, in that they look like something a surrealist might have painted in the ‘30s, yet also manage to look completely contemporary.

Doig is very good at questioning the light, painting daylight as if it were moonlight, and night-time scenes as if they were day. This might have something to do with living in Trinidad. “What you realize here is that half the day is night,” he has said of living on the Caribbean island.

Although he was born in Edinburgh in 1959, he spent several of his childhood and teenage years in Trinidad, where his father had been sent by the shipping company he worked for. After many years away, he has been back in Port of Spain since 2002.

I spent six months on the Caribbean island of Providencia a few years ago, and well remember the strangeness of night, when the warmth, peace and scent of the air kept me outdoors long into the night. Perhaps it was being immersed in reading up on the history of the Caribbean, perhaps it was the wealth of folk stories on the islands, but night-time was a particularly magical time.

The north coast of Trinidad. | ©

Several of Peter Doig’s paintings in the exhibition at Tokyo’s Modern Art Museum appear to be of Trinidad by night - but whether they are of night or day, they share a strange sense of dislocation. I can’t think of another painter who is so good at creating paintings that look like memories, vivid yet fixed, somehow both warm and cool.

Doig wrapped the columns of the Scottish National Gallery in bright colours for his exhibition there. | Brian McNeil / CC BY SA 3.0

Doig’s palette is imbued with tropical colours, but not of the sort you see in the tropics by day, but rather as you might glimpse through a window by night, half in dream.

The unsettling feeling you get looking at his pictures might have something to do with the way Doig works. As well as painting, he takes photos and makes prints, and he often carries images and ideas from one medium into another. “I am trying to create something that is questionable, something that is difficult, if not impossible, to put into words,” he once said.

Peter Doig earned his MA from London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design in 1990 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1994. He has had solo exhibitions at top museums around the world including Tate Britain in London, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris, the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh and Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland.

MOMAT Peter Doig exhibition

By - George Lloyd.