Clint Roenisch Gallery presents 'The Return of the Beautiful Hayseed', a small survey of Chris Cran's work from 1980 - 2006.
Clint Roenisch is pleased to present a small survey of work made between 1980 and 2006 by Chris Cran, considered one of Canada’s most important and visually inquisitive painters. Cran has emphasized the process of perception, optical phenomena, image coherence and the role of the photographic as key components to his work. This practice, which has roamed across the spectrum from figuration to abstraction, often melding disparate techniques into the same painting, has also usually included an overt sense of humour and visual wit.
Born in 1949 in Ocean Falls, British Columbia Chris Cran graduated from the Alberta College of Art in 1979 and first came to prominence in the late 1980’s with a series of large self-portraits in oil which were shown at the Art Gallery of Windsor under the title “Loved By Millions.” In ‘Self-Portrait Accepting A Cheque For The Commission Of This Painting,’ for example, the artist and the collector who bought the painting are shown in suits shaking hands and holding the cheque. ‘Double Self-Portrait Wanting To Know What I’m Doing Home So Late’ (included in the current exhibition) presents the artist as unimpressed housewife and wayward husband simultaneously. ‘My Face In Your Home’ (1986) meanwhile, lays bare the ultimate agenda behind all artist’s self-portraits. Cran’s subsequent paintings through the 90’s, in shows with titles like “Chris Cran: The First Hundred Years”, were less concerned with narrative and parody than with the mechanics of seeing and the eye’s innate capacity to build optical space. Working with a half-tone dot technique that recalled both newsprint and pop art Cran conflated art-historical subject matter - the still life, landscapes, religious imagery - with stripes painted in such strong contrast as to frustrate the resolution of the work. Beginning in 2002 Cran made a series of paintings called Sublime Sales which incorporated a half-toned image of a 50’s era salesman who appeared to be writing up the contract for various screened images presented on his right, from Whistler’s mother to Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, effectively collapsing the space between commerce and the often sublime experience of viewing art.
Chris Cran has exhibited widely since 1980. A large mid-career retrospective, “Chris Cran: Surveying The Damage 1977 –1997” toured Canadian museums with a catalogue from 1998 to 2001. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada; the Edmonton Art Gallery and several other Canadian museums; in the corporate collections of McCarthy Tétrault; Osler Hoskin Harcourt; Petro-Canada and others along with many private collection