oil on board
40.5 x 51 cm
Ray Crooke is the master painter of Australia’s far northerly regions and offshore Pacific environs. He is the painter of opalescent, slightly melancholic outreaches where homespun rituals such as flower picking and promenading are replenishing enough to engross individual citizens or whole townships of people. In the classic compositions of Crooke, sitting around is a time consuming, indeed constructive activity undertaken with gravity.
He is enjoyed for this quality. And purchased for it. To own a Ray Crooke is to possess a passport to reverie. It is to be granted leave to eat lotuses. Guiltlessly. Aimlessly. It is to gather with parrots, drunk on nectar and the sun. Crooke offers his avid multitudes of buyers safe passage to the province of introspection. A stress-free zone mortgaged only to pleasure.
I am a long time admirer of Crookes immobilized vision which seems to me to accord with the inner truth of the distant topographies it depicts, even if it contradicts the external facts from time to time. He is perhaps the only Australian painter of his generation who gets the slow-motion effect of the tropics down pat- the way foliage, so quick to propagate and grow, and the way water, so ready to run in silvery rivulets down volcanic rocks or whip into foam over coral reefs, the way natural phenomena of all kinds come to a halt around one - contradicting commands of physics and time.
Immersed in a gumbo of humidity, sweat, scent and sleep, Crooke’s human figures are the embodiments of radical torpor-effigies with heartbeats. It is his great accomplishment as an artist, cumulatively enterprised, to have carved out of a mere state of mind a shapeliness visible to the eye.
extract from article by Bruce James in the Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March 2006 p 13