Fred Crayk’s work is difficult to categorise but essentially it takes the human body as its subject.
The paintings can be split into two distinct groups. One group explores an abstracted, painterly language while the other is more conventionally representational in terms of the western tradition.
As regards the first group, which can be viewed in portfolio 1, Crayk acknowledges the important influence of abstract painting, especially that produced in America in the 1950s and ‘60s. The opportunity to exploit anti-narrative approaches through a painterly, abstract language is fully embraced. However, no matter how much the work hovers between abstraction and figuration, there is always a pulling- back or grounding in the human body when the image is finally resolved.
The second group, which can be viewed in portfolio 2, allows Crayk to explore a more figurative visual language which has intentionally obvious links with the European tradition. Major influences are Venetian painters Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto and Baroque artists Caravaggio, Velazquez, Reni and Poussin.
Crayk intends that these works offer a narrative structure within which the viewer can interpret the imagery and speculate on content in a religious, social and/or philosphical context.
The painter works in these different styles simultaneously.
The centrality of the human body coupled with the stylistic diversity in Crayk’s work not only takes it into the realms of the narrative and anti-narrative but also the sensual and the psychological and ultimately the religious. Regardless of belief, it must be acknowledged that the European tradition is founded on the interpretation of religious imagery and doctrine. Although he cannot be described as a conventional religious painter the sensual and psychological dynamic contained in religious narrative, especially in the area of martyrdom, plays an important role in the evolution of his paintings. Crayk also seeks to locate his work in a contemporary context and recognises the profound effect of daily social and political experience and events on his thinking, his sensibility and his emotional environment. Contemporary social experience ultimately determines his choice of subject matter and the development of his imagery. In essence, he wants to hold a complexity and coalescence of emotion and intellect, permeated by doubt, within each painting.
Oil paint and its unique qualities are fully exploited by Crayk to achieve his aims and intentions. As his personal statement reveals, he is aware of the complex relationship between the medium and his subject. This has led him to be deeply informed of and acutely sensitive to the history of the ‘mark’ and the’ gesture’ which is central to the practice of oil painting. It can be argued that this generates a dilemma for all painters in this ‘late’ 21st century period which, in turn, presents a challenge for those of ambition. Crayk continually rises to this challenge.
“My work arises from an acute awareness of oil paint’s associations with the body in the emotional, sensual and psychological realms. The biology, corporeality and articulation of the body in space are of obsessive interest to me. The metaphors which evolve between oil paint and bodily materiality are at the heart of what I do. For me this cannot occur in a vacuum. I endeavour to place my painting and imagery in linked contexts to do with contemporary experience, history and religion. Ultimately the challenge I set myself is the resolution of doubt “