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Greg Rook

Page 1 | 2 | Biography


'Land grab' Oil on linen - 46" x 69"
Contemporary figurative painters, like many others, find themselves in the congested territory of searching for a distinct subject matter that has the breadth and malleability on which to build a personalised mark making language. For Greg Rook, this quest has brought him to the rich imagery of the American frontier and Wild West.

Working with a variety of mediated photographic sources, ranging from television, the internet, and film stills, Rook artificially constructs his disquieting imagery. His filmic assemblages could remain in the photographic domain as an artistic statement and carry relevance, however, his further activity of painting form the manipulated imagery, forces us to position the work within the lineage of historic figurative painting, and thus

'Interior' Oil on linen - 46" x 69"
Their instinctive honesty is always undercut by a knowing awareness of the contemporary environment of their making. Just when we start to believe in an image, and its earnest symbolism, Rook’s painting processes bring us back to the ‘here’ and ‘now’ of the room in which we stand and the physicality of paint on canvas. This disruption of surface causes us to slow down our viewing engagement, to look and look again in a search for answers to our own anxieties and beliefs. With the titling of the works such as Trophy, Dust and ashes, and Hideout, Rook only intends to guide our interpretation, allowing ambiguity to remain.

Rook embraces the tradition of metaphorical painting, feeling liberated to explore and quote filmic and art historical reference points through the filter of his geographically specific imagery. He utilises the potent symbolic nature of the source material as a way to open up a conversation into our current anthropological position and beliefs. Sourced from TV and film, it is not difficult to start seeing common ground with the techniques of film narration, and with the cinematographer’s wide screen.

we have a very different viewing engagement, and duration.

With the work in the recent exhibition, We live like this, Rook’s enjoyment of the paint is key. Relishing the historic weight of 'oil on canvas', with its status, directness and limitations, Rook has not tried to objectively illustrate an idea, but instead, has found a number of idiosyncratic ways in which to emphasize the physicality of the painting activity, alongside more descriptive passages. Whether this is intensified colour choices in the painting Trophy, or the piping of impasto oil paint on to the surface (akin to cake decoration) in Land grab, or perhaps the leaving of raw unpainted sections of linen in the work Interior, these techniques all contribute to partially disrupt the consistent ‘screen’ of his source imagery.

Traditionally, painting has been thought of as a window into another world, only broken through the modernist era when the objecthood of a painting was emphasised. Rook is very much aware of this lineage and has found ways of implying space, and yet, strategically disrupting parts of the surface to remind the viewer of the artifice of his constructs. Thus, metaphorically, the painting’s come across in equal measures as both idealistic and realistic.
'A world where things simply happen' - 69" x 92"

Greg Rook
London
United Kingdom
Europe

T: +44 0 20 8767 9141
F:
M: +44 0 7775 945 181
w: http://www.gregrook.co.uk



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