Peter Doig: Homage to the 'Ring'
The New York Times
Carol Vogel
16 September 2011

Although the fall season of the Metropolitan Opera doesn't begin until Sept. 26, there's a lot going on behind the scenes at Gallery Met, the 1,500-square-foot space in the south lobby that presents contemporary-art exhibitions tied to the operas onstage.

Now in its fifth year, Gallery Met will once again pay homage to the Met's new Robert Lepage production of Wagner's 'Ring'cycle. (The next installment, 'Siegfried,'will have its premiere on Oct. 27.) Last season the artist Elizabeth Peyton created a suite of works based on various characters in the 'Ring,'filling every floor of the opera as well as Gallery Met. This season Dodie Kazanjian, Gallery Met's director, has asked the Scottish artist Peter Doig to create works for both the opera house and the gallery.

'When I was a student, I saw a lot of opera, but I'm hardly an aficionado,'Mr. Doig said in a telephone interview from his studio in Trinidad (where he lives for part of the year, when he is not in London). He's now more familiar with the 'Ring'than ever. When Ms. Kazanjian approached him, he said he started seriously listening to the recordings.

That, and a visit to New York to check out Gallery Met and the opera house itself, motivated him to create four paintings, one based on the cycle, that will be on view from Sept. 27 through Dec. 31. He has also made 'Siegfried & Brünhilde,'a large canvas, 6 feet by 10 feet, that will hang at the top of the Met's staircase on the Grand Tier level.

'Working with narrative, finding an image or atmosphere is not so alien for me,'he said. He has also made a colorful 'Siegfried'banner that will hang outside the opera house, starting on Oct. 3.

Mr. Doig, best known for his romantic landscapes of summer lakes and icy forests, explained that he looked to Fritz Lang's 1924 film 'Die Nibelungen,'which is based on the same epic German poem that was Wagner's inspiration for the 'Ring'cycle. For years now he has been running a weekly film club in Trinidad and creating posters from the movies being screened.

'I like the idea of the scrappiness of a poster,'Mr. Doig said when describing the large oil paintings on paper that he has made for the show, 'They are almost like big sketches, rough and raw, yet elegant at the same time.'