Robert Crooks (b. 1985) is an American Expressionist collage artist from New York. Robert has a background in fashion design, which is a key element of inspiration in his works, expressed in the form of sharp, vibrant colors and a powerful visage of hypermaterialism. Having spent several of his formative years in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, his works are also distinctly marked by Chinese art and cultural influences.
The notion of escaping present reality is a common theme in Robert’s collage paintings, whether they are of his signature cityscapes, the skies and horizon, or national flags, all of which are often very tall or large in scale. His cityscape works, in particular, are painted with the intention of mimicking the "cavalier perspective" technique most notably found in traditional Chinese landscape paintings based on the theory of "Oblique Projection".
Living in New York, Robert is captivated by the excitement of living in the big city, yet his life is burdened by the stress and hardships of reality, a truth that is ever clear in the cutthroat world of fashion design. His constant search for escape and yearn for adventure eventually takes the form of sailing. Thus, in his cityscape collage paintings, Robert often depicts himself at sea.
Attracted to the city’s charms yet fearful of its harms, the ocean becomes a safe haven where he turns back to admire the beauty of his beloved city only from a safe distance. The tall skies above are filled with cutout faces from Robert’s fashion magazines, like empty souls from the fashion world drifting in the air, reflecting Robert’s conflicting internal fears that he may never be able to escape reality, no matter where he goes. However, the sheer height difference in the great skies above compared to the shorter cityscapes below suggest Robert’s general optimistic belief that there is hope in the future in a place far away.
Young and talented, Robert’s powerful collages have gathered him a fast-growing audience, with collectors from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Istanbul.