Her influences, content, and stylistic pantheon include memento mori, Victorian miniatures, avant-garde science fiction, crisply executed Magritte-style Surrealism, Medieval illumination, and Renaissance pageantry.
Maryrose Crook is a self taught New Zealand audio-visual artist drawing on traditions of surrealism, still life and folk art to create worlds where beauty and brutality exist in close proximity. The Victorian Era becomes a character in its own right, with symbols of loss and mourning; extinct birds, faux mourning jewellery, and the sickly clone of the era’s favourite flower, Iris Susiana, the mourning Iris, morphing from a flower in a vase, into everything from wallpaper to objects of glass. Echoing Spanish Still Life traditions, cuts of glistening meat are draped with pearls, at rest on silk brocades. New Zealand’s long lost Pink and White Terraces and Sophia Hinerangi, the famous guide in the area at the time of the eruption, become players in a Lynchian world, both surreal yet aping reality, and the darkness is never far away; encircling the jewel-like inhabitants; moths, birds, landscapes and people.
Crook has shown widely in New Zealand, as well as the United States, Berlin and China. She has been featured in many books on art and also extensively in Parisian magazine “Hey! Modern Art and Pop Culture”, for whom she recently created two new pieces for their publication on the theme of the Earth Charter. In 2016 she exhibited for the first time in Los Angeles, at La Luz de Jesus, on Sunset Boulevard, and in 2017 she traveled to Miami Beach Art Basel where she was part of a group pop-up gallery on Biscayne Boulevard, titled “In Heroes We Trust”. In 2018 she will again exhibit with La Luz de Jesus.
Crook began painting in 1996 and within a year took part in a group exhibition at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Curator Gwyneth Porter commented at the time that the years spent writing and performing as a member of the Renderers, (“a post Velvet’s electric folk group” Indoorsman, 2013), had honed Crook’s library of imagery, so that the paintings seemed to spring out fully formed once the artist took up the brush.
She has held a number of residencies, both in New Zealand (William Hodges, 6 months, Rangi Ruru Girl’s School, 6 months) and in China, where she was a resident of the Red Gate Gallery, Beijing, for 3 months, after winning the Development Award of the Wallace Art Awards in 2006, with the piece “Song of the Grey Ghost”.
Crook’s work is held in public and private collections in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany.
“Maryrose Crook’s paintings are obsessively rendered and hypnotic to behold, ineluctably drawing the viewer into dreamlike narratives that promise to reveal their mysteries, which of course they never do. Her influences, content, and stylistic pantheon include memento mori, Victorian miniatures, avant-garde science fiction, crisply executed Magritte-style Surrealism, Medieval illumination, and Renaissance pageantry. From all these threads springs a richness of symbolism, where every object, posture, and mark carries meaning, and sometimes contradictions.
Flowers, birds and bees, luxurious fabrics, unsettling still lifes with fresh meats and strands of pearls — art historical in a very specific, proto-modern kind of way that prefigured Pop Surrealism centuries hence, yet retaining a classically refined palette and single-hair delicacy in its luminosity. In Crook’s lavish beauty and lurking death, nostalgia, faith, and anguish all collude to render the world as a psychological matter.”
Shana Nys Dambrot, Huff Post article for Godfrey Daniels School of Charm.
“Crook’s inventiveness is extraordinary. Touched by the genius of Bruegel and Bosch, she invents fabulous entities for these scenes, livened with a fragile, jewel-like brilliance and intense colour. Sometimes the effect is almost frightening: Lovecraftian horrors made chillingly real. A striking female nude viewed from the back has a slightly alien, organic and erotic quality – and we instinctively know that she is not of this earth.
Teamed with Crook’s larger works are the smaller close-up depictions of fantasy jewellery – again rather otherworldly, as if sourced from the sort of junk shop where the proprietor has cloven hooves and the building vanishes once you’re out the door, a la Twilight Zone. These are just as exquisite and inventive as the larger works – a magical realism.”
Andrew Paul Wood, Christchurch Press.