People responded very, very strongly to this artist. Whilst the subjects are familiar, even every-day, the execution, colour and clarity are just breathtaking. A first glance tells you there is a real talent behind these paintings and people marvel at the execution.
Once in a while, an invitation to an art gallery opening hints at an exceptional experience to come. In the case of Criss Canning’s show at Philip Bacon Galleries the work lived up to my anticipation. Here is an exceptional talent whose paintings deserve to be much better known, especially in Queensland. Although all but one of the works on view is a still-life featuring flowers, don’t let this fact discourage you.
Flowers, fabrics and ceramics are merely the props employed in remarkable essays in pictorial placement. If you thought the art of composition was dead, think again. Canning’s work has some of the calm exactitude of a Zen garden and can induce comparable sensations of serenity.
Canning’s paintings are meticulously crafted yet never look laboured. They are also broad but precise. Canning’s art celebrates life and beauty.
in a review in the Courier-Mail wrote in part.
Every one of Canning’s canvases hums with surface tension built through her uncanny sense of geometry and design. Working with the rich textures and viscosity of oils, she builds her images with the same meticulous craftsmanship as a weaver or quilt-maker: tracing each objects outline and securing it firmly into the pictorial plane with deft black lines and powerful blocks of pure colour. Looking into the shallow pictorial space of her canvases we find ourselves drawn into a world of abstract retinal pleasure where the subject becomes synonymous with its composition and colour blends with form in a private orchestration led by the artist’s distinctive baton.
......... Canning sheds daylight onto humble objects in a way that imbues them with an aura far more enduring than their transient human purpose. She pretends to paint naturalistically, yet controls her compositions, manipulating them from above and distorting them to augment the equilibrium of her illusion. She paints for nothing less than to cement life’s inclination to abstraction.
In all these works there is a celebration of light. As Canning’s powers as an artist reach their zenith, her ability to capture reflected light has become almost uncanny. On a simple vase of various coloured sun-flowers, the room in which the artist habitually paints can be discerned on the glossy surface of the vessel, while a lacquer tray in a still-life with ranunculus becomes a limpid pool of old rose light. The extraordinary sheen of the inner side of ranunculus petals themselves – a miracle of nature- has been achieved seemingly without effort.................... But what works these are. They inspire strong thoughts - of avarice and desire.
Director of the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, in a forward to Canning’s exhibition.
in his book Criss Canning: The Pursuit of Beauty
They may be still-lifes, but they hold the intensity of human emotion and multi-hued dance of every day life.
in the Melbourne Herald Sun
Unerring, expert, gorgeous, scary. Rarely seen in Sydney, the paintings of Criss Canning........conflate the sobriety of Margaret Preston with the sumptuousness of Hilda Rix Nicholas. These are her historical precursors. As for her peers, perhaps she has none, Canning is in a club of one.
Sydney Morning Herald