Maxwell Doig

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The recent renaissance celebrating the Art of the North-East of England requires little introduction and the increasing historical and critical interest in this regional School is well known. However, as the availability of Lowry and Helen Bradley, amongst others, continues to diminish, collectors are fast turning their attentions to the small group of exciting young painters working in the North today and whose distinctive styles are forming the next chapter in the Northern Art School.

The most significant, perhaps, is Maxwell Doig, born and bred in Huddersfield, where he still has his studio today. He trained in the 1980s at Manchester School of Art, specialising in printmaking and then undertook postgraduate studies at the Slade and at UCL where he also studied anatomy. It was a significant early encounter with the Yorkshire artist David Blackburn MBE (1939 – 2016) which set the young Doig on this artistic trajectory ‘He changed my life’ Doig admits – it was Blackburn who really taught the teenage artist how to see and how to draw and the seasoned artist taught the young student the valuable lesson that he did not have to draw everything he saw, just the salient points. By the time Doig left the Slade in 1990 he was already selling his work and has made his living ever since as a professional artist, recognised for his technical skill as a painter and his confident approach to subject matter. Both commercial and museum exhibitions followed in quick succession and his position was sealed with a major touring exhibition in the late 90s to Huddersfield Art Gallery, Wakefield Art Gallery, the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate and culminating at Salford Art Gallery. Represented by dealer David Messum, Doig has enjoyed regular exhibitions at the West End gallery since 2017, the next opening on 6th January 2022.

It is no wonder that his work appeals to collectors of Contemporary British Art. His imagery is very much concerned with – and located in – place, something which continues to resonate more and more strongly with collectors. Although Doig can travel as far the East Coast in Suffolk to paint the boats and extraordinary coastal landscape, as he has for his most recent London exhibition, much of his work is concerned with the local landscape around him in Yorkshire, and the deserted buildings that characterise his neighbourhood. ‘These Empty dwellings’ he says ‘they make people stop and look. My pictures trigger memories – forgotten emotions, perhaps?’. They are places where people have lived, loved, worked and sweated out their lives, be it on a factory floor, in a boat or in the green fields of Yorkshire…something in his paintings resurrects memories of the past, remembered and yet half-forgotten.

The North East’s alternative artistic tradition is one that many regions simply don’t have. With its sense of place it stands alongside the Norwich School in East Anglia and the Cornish School of Art with traditions that go back centuries. As we look forward to the next chapter in this exciting and unique artistic movement, Maxwell Doig continues to develop as an influential and pivotal figure. 

‘Maxwell Doig’ An exhibition of 45 paintings at David Messum Fine Art Ltd, 12 Bury Street, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6AB, 6th – 28th January 2022. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue with foreward by critic and curator David Boyd-Haycock.  All works are for sale with prices ranging from £4,850 - £16,850.