Friday, 6 December 2013


Alpha Gallery, Cork St, London W1S 3NJ
The Meal, 24 x 34 ins, 61 x 86cm, tinted gesso on wood

Eight people gather for a meal.   The table fills the room; the menu is so lavish some of it has to be parked on the deep frame where the painting continues. The ceiling is low, the portraits on the walls, indeed the walls themselves, press upon the diners and draw us into the picture.  We are standing very close. The curved backs of  bentwood chairs and the bowl of sprightly flowers comprise a beautiful but flimsy barrier.

This painting is mysterious yet utterly believable. Most of the diners stare fixedly at a space in the centre of the table which is hidden to us. They are players in a drama about the unexpectedness of life. They could be card players waiting for the next vital winner-takes-all move. Or perhaps those downcast eyes suggest that someone has just made a remark after which nothing is the same? Or maybe they recognise that this is the moment before something irrevocable happens? But this painting is more than a vehicle for a simple narrative.

The Dance (Dancing with the Captain), 36 x46ins, 91 x 117cm,tinted gesso on canvas and painted wooden frame

Tea Dance also both enchants and disconcerts the viewer. These are ordinary people  holiday making (or working) on an ocean liner, bent on enjoying themselves. At least one lady has fulfilled her dream of dancing with the captain. They are centre stage in a dance hall - a  place where people are isolated yet interdependent at the same time.The palm trees flatten themselves against the walls. The figures are superbly organised. So too are the iced fancies on the cake stand, tipped towards us so as to display themselves at their most mouth-watering. Two sedate teapots face each other across the room.  The dreamy  peaches and corals and aquas and greys which everyone is wearing are split in two by the crisp sharp geometry of a diamond tiled floor. You can almost hear the crack and crackle of those heels as they tap out the rhythm.

Hare and Tortoise, 12 x 14 inches, tinted gesso on wood.
Do P.J.Crook's animal paintings also suggest that something odd is going on just below the surface?
The outcome of Aesop's Fable is familiar. Of course the slow patient tortoise triumphs over the hubristic hare. But here the hare, though alert and eager, is trapped inside the frame. Lithe and supple he is not. The  tortoise is watchful, eyeing the viewer. Behind them a couple manoeuvre their tiny rowing boat, and minuscule ships seem to be tethered by the smoke from their funnels.

See 20 more of her paintings at

No comments:

Post a Comment