Graham Crowley believes in the infinite potential of painting and that one should aim to make art that is both entertaining and substantial. Drawing provides the basis for his painting, which is at once both sensual and restrained. He uses ordinary subjects and creates extraordinary new identities for them. They are romantic images; they celebrate life and do not try to analyse it. The monochrome flower paintings engage emotion and the imagination. A sense of excitement and rediscovery shines out from the stylized figuration of the landscapes.
Crowley studied at St Martin’s College of Art and taught at Goldsmith’s and at the Royal College of Art, where he was professor of Painting 1998-2006. He met Peter Coker while he was studying painting at St Martin’s in the late 1960s. Coker was a visiting tutor and came in about once a week. Crowley recounts that Coker’s method of teaching was refreshingly straight forward, focusing on the student’s paintings rather than the machinations of the art world. He seemed genuinely interested in the work of the students and would invariably offer practical advice – something that few tutors thought to impart. Crowley recounts that Coker was much admired as a teacher. He never affected the obtuse ‘art speak’ that became adopted by so many ‘artists’. He didn’t have to impress – his work spoke for him. Over the years Crowley has come to realise that Peter had a better understanding of modernism than those tutors whose work (at the time) appeared more fashionable and that this was because he was closer to its roots.