This article originally appeared in WhyNow.
Peter Doyle is travelling at breakneck speed. His journey from no art school background in Dublin to being represented by Cob Gallery shows no signs of slowing down, it has taken him to Berlin, Milan, London, Cuba, and will take him further.
Walking through the streets and finding composition in the figures that walk past him. Talking to people and finding interest and inspiration in the stories they tell and the lives they lead. This is the artistic experience of Peter Doyle, whose work compels you to ask more from what you immediately see.
His time spent graffitiing anywhere and everywhere has informed this immediacy, available to everyone who walks past a wall or gets on a train. It has given him an acknowledgement of colour, a sense of confidence, and shown him that, despite no prior interest in art and no attendance of a prestigious art school, there was a talent buried within him. He says Graffiti “has made [him] be less precious when approaching a picture, [he] tends to start it pretty fast initially then go back and smooth out the rough parts… this way [he] can work on 5-6 paintings at once and just really go for em.”
And he really goes for them. The surface hits you with everything in one guttural aesthetic punch; colours and nudity, guns and patterns are the defining features adorning his huge canvases. These are the things that pull you in, yet what lies beneath keeps you there. Doyle pours mystery and question into the space behind these pictures, his graffiti experience holds the key to the urgency with which these themes reach you. Why are they there, who are they there for? Endless questions both answerable and unknowable that are a joy to ask, because they are a joy to look at.
When Doyle started painting, his focus was simply on the things that he was surrounded by, what he was looking at, the people he hung out with and the Guinness he was drinking. No one else can do that because no one else is living his life.
He cites luck as a key driving force of his journey as a painter to this point. He was lucky to have a friend give him a storage unit in Dublin to use as his first studio; lucky to have met the right people at the right time; lucky to have the right conversations at the right time; lucky to have been introduced to and represented by Cob Gallery; lucky to get a studio space off Brick Lane and a flat 5 minutes away. He was sleeping in the studio, having parties in the studio, making the studio look like what an artist’s studio should. As a newcomer to the art world there is trepidation in not knowing how to deal with conversations with big-money collectors, visits from big-gallery curators, and questions from interviewers. But somehow, Peter flies through it all with an apparent ease, taking it all in an unflappable stride, who cares if its luck or talent? Who cares if he’s ‘doing it right’? Doyle continues to travel from strength to strength.
A considerable part of his upcoming solo exhibition with Cob gallery, due to take place at the beginning of 2020, features paintings that were made during his recent trip to Cuba, of twins who have transitioned. They were hanging in the studio when I arrived, huge, brash, bright and bold, though Peter tells me these canvases are tiny to him now. As celebrities of the scene, they took Peter to their haunts, immersed him in their world, told him their stories, and let him paint their portraits. His paintings want to depict stories that aren’t just his own, wanting Peter to go gonzo, to put himself where it happens, to read more and to travel as much as possible. The immersion of James Joyce may be “fucking haaard to read, man,” so he says, but it represents his drive to discover stories, scenes, characters and actions that he can use, reflect and embody in his work. Doyle “would read stories and try to create them on the canvas or in a drawing” as “it really opens up new fantasy-style worlds, the kind of world [he is] trying to get across in [his] work.” The colour and the figures will be backed by the stories that catch the imagination and interest of Doyle.
More conversations with more and more and more people. Peter outgrew Dublin and came to London, he will soon be going to New York, maybe LA after that? Go where it’s mad, go where the artists are and the people go. That’s where the opportunity and luck is. So, why not?