artists represented

Criss Canning
Still life with tamarillos
1983
oil on board
60.5 x 50 cm
  

Australia has produced some fine botanical artists and some great painters of still life.  In Criss Canning we find someone who combines both metiers to a remarkable degree.  These works depict plants in a way that is botanically accurate.  A plantsman would no doubt be able to recognise and name every species and cultivar depicted, but that is only a secondary characteristic of these paintings.

First and foremost the viewer will encounter works where the main subject has been given the care and attention normally given to human portraiture.  In fact, that is what one sees in all of these works – the ‘personality’ of each plant has been lovingly coaxed from the paint.  The same can be said for the works that depict inanimate objects only.  It is amusing to think that the equivalent French expression for ‘still life’ is ‘nature morte’ – literally ‘dead nature’.  There is nothing dead about these subjects.  The artist has made even her pots and vases and trays sing with vitality.

It is very difficult to ‘place’ Criss Canning.  She has chosen a path blazed by Rachel Ruysch and Ambrosius Boschaert, with influences perhaps from Japan and secessionist Vienna, that removes her to a degree from the mainstream of Australian painting.  But what works these are!  They inspire strong thoughts – of avarice and desire.

Gordon Morrison, Director, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery

extract taken from 2006 exhibition catalogue