Greg Rook’s paintings explore the rich visual history, curious cultural politics and often complex ideologies of those who seek to start a new life or wish to lead alternative lifestyles. From pioneers travelling to new continents to those wanting to stay put and live self-sufficiently, Rook invites us to join him on his own aesthetic and critical journey through a world of colonies, communities, communes and cults.
By means of figurative painting that pushes the boundaries between realism and lyricism, Rook captures something profoundly revealing in terms of the hopes, dreams and successes as well as the disappointments, disillusionment and disasters that radical departures from home life and mainstream society can entail. For some, utopias can turn to dystopias, the Romantic imaginary can turn to tragedy, the sublime can turn to misery. For those fleeing oppression, however, it can, on occasion, be completely the opposite – newfound freedom, affluence and happiness. Rook’s oeuvre, which incorporates cowboys and communists, agrarians and anarchists, believers and book-burners, depicts how the relationship between people and land is regularly fraught with issues, especially when migration and a clash of mindsets or ways of life is involved. What are brave new worlds for some are threatened old worlds for others.
Greg Rook is an artist working in London and Surrey. He graduated with a BA from Chelsea School of Art in 2000, before completing an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 2002.
Since then he has held over a dozen solo exhibitions and featured in more than forty group exhibitions in Britain and internationally.