For its grand reopening, the recently refurbished Courtauld Gallery, located in the magnificent Neoclassical setting of Somerset House, hosts a major exhibition on contemporary artist Peter Doig. Few artists could make such a comeback, but Doig proves that he is still very much around, with a bold return to London after decades of living abroad.

Born in Edinburgh and raised in Canada, Doig secured his reputation in the 1990s with his original figurative paintings and is still considered one of the most celebrated painters working today. Featuring 12 paintings and 20 drawings, the exhibition marks a new chapter for Doig, showcasing the new and recent work created since the artist’s move from Trinidad to London in 2021 (some of which were touched up merely days before the instalment).

As you meander through rooms filled with an exceptional collection of some of the most iconic Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, into a light-filled gallery space on the building's top floor, large works that hark back to Doig’s life and relationships back in Trinidad are displayed. From remarkable landscapes to monumental portraits, each painting adopts a vibrant colour palette with tactile and gestural brush strokes.

Nestled in a moody dim-lit side room, away from the artist's more vibrant, major canvases, a series of delicate never-before-seen etchings are presented. Each very fluid in technique, the etchings are an intimate response to the poetry of Doig’s good friend and collaborator, the late Sir Derek Walcott, who received the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and has paved the way for fellow aspiring Caribbean poets, writers and creatives for decades. 

One painting, however, stands out against the rest. A new London subject, depicting a quintessentially London scene along what could be the towpath or Regent Canal that evolved from a hand-drawn birthday card given to the artist's young son. A study exploring the obscure and the mundane, which the curator identified as a nod to the gallery’s renowned paintings, including the world-famous A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet and Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear.

The Masters that have inspired the artist throughout his career now set the scene for his own works, which highlight his ability to reinvent the traditions and practises of painting and printmaking to produce unique and wholly new creations.

Peter Doig will open at The Courtauld, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN on 10 February 2023.