Yves Trépanier on Chris Cran

By: Yves Trépanier

Written by: Yves Trépanier, TrépanierBaer Gallery, Calgary

LOT 50: CHRIS CRAN (1949-), R.C.A., CANADIAN MAP, 2006

In 1993 TrépanierBaer organized an exhibition of Chris Cran’s most recent works aptly titled New Works. It was an exciting moment. There was anticipation in the air. The artist hadn’t exhibited since his survey exhibition at the 49th Parallel in New York the year before, and people were curious to see what he had been up to in the ensuing year and half. It was becoming more and more apparent that Chris Cran was an artist who liked to play and experiment, guided as much by ideas as by the act of “tinkering and the intuitive use of materials.” [i]  What would he present this time?

We had gone to the wire with the last of the paintings installed literally minutes before the 6:00 p.m. opening time. As the crowd filed into the gallery almost everyone was confused. One polite and puzzled collector asked, “Excuse me, but I was told there is a Chris Cran exhibition opening this evening, did I get the date wrong?  Whose work is this?” People laughed. The artist stood on the sidelines, grinning and taking it all in. “This is the Cran exhibition! This is Chris’ new work!” someone exclaimed. Another cried, “These paintings are beautiful.” The room buzzed with conversation as people questioned the work and tried to understand what it might all mean.

The five or six paintings presented in the main gallery that evening, purposely installed at a height higher than the museum standard, were the first in the series of abstract paintings begun in 1993, and that continues today. They are unapologetically beautiful. As the critic and curator Nancy Tousley has stated,  “…[they] operate on the threshold between reality and illusion, perceived, like the photographic trace, as light reflecting off an object existing in space.” [ii]

Waddington’s is pleased to offer two works by Chris Cran, lot 49 and lot 50 in our Contemporary Art online auction, which runs from September 26 – October 1. We also invite you to browse the full gallery.

LOT 49: CHRIS CRAN (1949-), R.C.A., YELLOW MEN, 1989


[i] Nancy Tousley,  “A Space Filled With Beauty: Abstract Painting by Chris Cran,” in Chris Cran Paintings, 1993-1996, exhibition catalogue, The Art Gallery of Peel, 1996, p.8, 9.

[ii]  Ibid, p.14

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