For his second solo show in Copenhagen, Alan Rankle has produced a suite of paintings: Formal Concerns, in which he continues his preoccupation with revitalising the tradition of landscape art within the context of our post-industrial world.
In these recent canvases, he seems to treat the whole history of landscape painting as a "found object." Aspects of Classical/Romantic painting are fused with Abstract Expressionistic gestures; trompe l'oeil elements are painted
as though from a 19th century naturalists journal. Knowingly referenced Conceptual asides provide an undercurrent of contemporary unease.. All these elements collide as a montage in the paintings, depicting a world splintering and fragmenting towards chaos, yet still evoking an eerie, and somehow threatening, illusion of harmony.
As with much of Rankle's work this series has a multi-layered aspect. The title "Formal Concerns" refers to the way "abstract" artists of the 1960s, when Rankle was a student, would distance their work from an involvement with "ordinary life" and political issues by using the term to describe their aims. It refers also to the belated pronouncement by the
British Government's Chief Scientist who recently expressed "Formal Concerns" on the subject of Global Warming. Further to this, the title could be considered in the light of Rankle's interest in the formal structures within the classical and Modernist paintings he emulates.
Individual painting titles: Hybrid; Landscape with Electrostatic; Fælledparken Ice Shelf; and Picturesque: Industrial Memoir of the Earth & Air, add to an informed reading of these works.
For all of these social and political implications though, (as Robert Smithson once put it "sooner or later politics comes and bites the artist in the ass") Rankle is keen to state his intention is essentially to help create a language for landscape art in Modern Times.