Ray Crooke (1922-2015) The Morning Catch, Fiji Island, 1969-71

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Lot 50
Ray Crooke
(1922-2015)
The Morning Catch, Fiji Island, 1969-71

AU$ 100,000 - 200,000
US$ 68,000 - 140,000
Ray Crooke (1922-2015)
The Morning Catch, Fiji Island, 1969-71
signed and dated lower left: 'R Crooke 71'
titled, signed and dated verso:
oil on synthetic polymer paint on canvas on composition board, triptych
183.0 x 488.0cm (72 1/16 x 192 1/8in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Collection of Margaret Carnegie, Holbrook
    Collection of the late Sir Warwick and Lady Fairfax, Sydney, acquired from the above c. 1971

    LITERATURE
    James Gleeson, Ray Crooke, Australian Artist Editions, Collins, Sydney, 1972, unpaginated (illus.)
    Suzanne Grano, North of Capricorn, The art of Ray Crooke, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, 1997, pp. 15-16 (illus.)

    Viewed from a window or balcony, Ray Crooke's figures in Morning Catch, Fiji Island, are poised in a languid moment of exchange. This monumental panorama of island life is unique in its scale and ambition, composed across three separate panels which are divided along the same structure as a winged altarpiece. The central panel contains our assembled group, gathered around the morning's catch which is arrayed as a bounty at their feet. The wings to the left and right extend our view of the village with glimpses into the quiet shade of the houses.

    Despite the compositional structure with its echoes in religious works, Crooke's work here is not iconoclastic but rather deals with the most human of experiences. Our figures are engaged in a simple moment of exchange which Crooke has infused with a melancholy which we must recognise as a type of Paradise Lost.

    As noted by Suzanne Grano in her 1997 exhibition catalogue, 'Images such as The School Bell, Thursday Island, 1958, and Morning Catch, Fiji Island, 1969, may awaken in viewers a nostalgia for the joy and beauty that seems always to exist in a distant time and place. Back in the magical realm of childhood. Or perhaps away in an imagined tranquil heaven on a distant tropical island. Through the delicate light and shadow which envelop so many of Crooke's still figures, the viewer may catch a glimpse of the human potential before the Fall. We are all too aware that such states of idyllic bliss come to us rarely in most of our adult urban lives.'1

    The motif of island life, of a type of Paradise, was one that proved to be of enduring inspiration for Crooke. From that first transformative experience in his 20s, Crooke notes, 'It is like a journey of discovery. I repeat myself endlessly because the variations of the vision are never-ending, and with added painting experience I approach closer to the ultimate wedding of vision and hand - the moment in time when all factors are right.'2

    Merryn Schriever

    1.Suzanne Grano, North of Capricorn, The art of Ray Crooke, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, 1997, p. 15
    2. ibid, p. 16
Contacts
Ray Crooke (1922-2015) The Morning Catch, Fiji Island, 1969-71
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