Criss Canning, a life creating beauty
Criss Canning, a life creating beauty

Criss Canning, a life creating beauty

Australian Criss Canning, born in Melbourne Victoria in 1947, is one of the world’s leading still life artists. Criss Canning’s rich, strong paintings are clearly her own style.

We give her the floor to comment on her work and tell her story.

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“A prayer for Giovanni…

The objects in my work – flowers, ceramics, trays and fabrics – are arranged and organised until they achieve a wonderful balance and harmony. Only then do I begin to paint on canvas.

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“The first painting in my Oshino series… these works remain special to me, bringing back fond memories of my visits to Japan”.

I enrolled at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in 1965 to study art. Although praised for my botanical painting skills, I left RMIT after deciding that I would not pursue this career.

At the same time, I studied graphic arts at Swinburne Technical College and after being introduced to the artist Max Middleton in the same year, I enrolled on his evening art course in his Collins Street studio.

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“It’s wonderful to see so many visitors enjoying the garden… coming to share the beauty… picnicking under the cherry blossom trees”.

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Through a Glass Darkly

Over the next few years, I held a number of jobs to support my children and my passion for painting.

In 1982 my first solo exhibition was at Fiveways Gallery, Kalorama. Following this success, I exhibited for the first time at the Melbourne Art Exchange in 1983.

Gumnuts from Polmonal

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Red glass and pomegranates…. “I so enjoyed painting this, these high harmonies of colour are always stimulating and exciting…”

In January 1986 I moved to Europe, living and painting first in Greece before travelling to Amsterdam and Paris later in the year. On my return in October, my fourth exhibition with the Melbourne Art Exchange took place, entitled Impressions of Greece.

In the following years, my paintings were exhibited in renowned galleries in Melbourne, Sydney, Hong Kong…

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“Sometimes you just go for it… you create something that you think about, and that no one else will identify with, but that you’re passionate about; always stay true to your own vision.”

Memories of Vienna... “glass pieces I brought back from a trip to Vienna with my sister, so beautifully worked with the hellebore in our garden”.

“Tulips from my garden… painted entirely on Mozart’s Requiem”.

Indeed, in 1995 I had a private exhibition at the Gould Galleries in Melbourne entitled “Criss Canning: In and Around Burnside” and in 1999 Margaret Olley (an illustrious Australian still life painter) bought “Waratah in a Green Jug” and donated it to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. This was the first time that one of my works had entered a public art museum, the most important in Sydney.

“Another painting from my Mondrian series of five paintings, each with its own colour harmony, and each with different fruits… such a joy to paint these works”

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“This painting was chosen for the cover of my latest book, published by Thames & Hudson”.

Yes, because after my father’s death in 1996, I began to paint in a more minimalist way and, what’s more, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, my love of Japanese art and the geometric drawings of Charles Rennie Mackintosh began to influence my painting.

My work accelerated in popularity and in 2002, Elisabeth Murdoch (Rupert Murdoch’s daughter) organised a solo exhibition at the Gould Galleries in South Yarra (an upmarket suburb of Melbourne).

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Swamp Banksia

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“Oriental poppies remain one of my favourite painting subjects… this one is called “Bloody Mary” ..!!! for my Sydney exhibition, it was a joy to paint”.

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The Red Teapot, I was so excited when I found this red teapot… a perfect painting accessory… the background is a very first Liberty fabric…. I always love working in these high colour harmonies.

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“Memories of Giverny”

In 2007, the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery organised a retrospective exhibition entitled “Kalianthi: The Art of Criss Canning”. The exhibition broke all previous attendance records, with 22,700 visitors.

Today, my work can be found in many of Australia’s leading galleries.

Through pink glass, 2021

The Lotus Teapot, 2022

The Flaming Tulip, 2021

Still life with thirteen objects, 2022

Red Glass and Grenades, 2022

Reflect, 2022

Criss Canning

I am on a journey of continuous discovery. After 59 years of painting, every day still brings new and exciting revelations – the colour, the calm, the work with my accessories, vases, flowers, fabrics – it’s an intimate affair, and my desire to create beauty is always present, so I’m the happiest of women.

Hakea and other seed pods, silkscreeen print

Tulip and blue composition

Poppy curls

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Pink poppy, 2002

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Lotus pot

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Angel poppies

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Black and white arrangement

Sheiba Iris Jewel

Sea dream with coral

The green and gold beladonne

Saffron reflections

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Japanese tea set


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