Rankle & Reynolds
Works on paper
Available Works

Sublimate Sublime Subliminal

Rita Fennell, One Stop Arts

Sublimate Sublime Subliminal
The Lloyds Club & Underdog Gallery London, UK
28th January - 13th April 2013

Alan Rankle, the curator of Sublimate Sublime Subliminal, has chosen to display this show in two quite different art spaces – the Lloyds Club in the City and the Underdog Gallery in artsy Borough on the south side. It was the Lloyds Club exhibition that I visited, housed in a gorgeous 18th century house in the heart of the historic insurance district, where the club provides an atmospheric, traditional backdrop. What unites these works is the theme of transforming the classical tradition of figures in a landscape. This theme is also reflected in the use of two gallery spaces, one augustly traditional and the other steadfastly contemporary.


Rankle has brought several artists together in this show, and at Lloyds Club, their work has been hung all around the three floors of the gallery. Starting on the ground floor, in the front bay room, one finds Norwegian artist Per Fronth's Conflict/Band of Horses (2012) hanging over the fireplace. I was drawn to this painting: in mixed media and wood, it draws on the Renaissance tradition of a wooded background, yet its beautifully-handled depiction of ballet dancers in contorted poses immediately recollects Degas' more modern interest in the female body in its various stances.


Also on the ground floor is a series of photographs by Rankle's collaborator, Kirsten Reynolds, whose work engages in natural backgrounds with flashes of coloured lights traced across the surface. The result, as in PARADOXOLOG XXXV (2012), is a disconcerting view of a threatening, uncertain landscape that turns the traditional notion of landscape as a bucolic escape from the pressures of the city on its head.


The show continues on the walls of the staircase leading to the first floor rooms. I was attracted to Enrico Savi's series of photographs, Obscured Places (2012): once again playing with the idea of landscape, Savi's work is not so much unsettling, but fragmentary. His images of nature are obscured by pastel-toned overlays reminiscent of film negatives; in this way, the viewer is allowed only glimpses through (literally) rose-tinted, unfocused lenses.


In the same room, Anders Moseholm's Red Indicum (2012) in oil on canvas, paints an idealised image of a classical space. The painting depicts a room with classical proportions, high ceilings and columnar interior detailing. Moseholm's smoky technique and restrained monochrome palette, with occasional smudges of reds, creates a sense of the timelessness of classical architecture. Indeed, the painting easily reflects the setting of Lloyds Club: rather than engaging aggressively with the past, Moseholm enhances its beauty.


The next room showcases some of Rankle's and Reynolds' paintings together. Both artists reference nature in their work, but in quite different ways: Rankle's oils, Unititled, Montsegur, and Wilderness Approaching (all 2012) address the undercurrents in landscape, as splashes of paint overlay natural backgrounds, while Reynolds continues her photographic techniques in depicting ephemeral energy. There is an undeniable dialogue between these works that the curation successfully engenders here.


Taking the staircase to the third floor, one passes works by Petri Ala-Manus, which continue onto the landing. Using found materials, he creates densely-detailed works in oils on such things as discarded cardboard and tin cans. I really liked Rome Trash Recycled (2012): by the time Ala-Manus finished working on the material it came to resemble thick leather made rich by the use of oils – a true resurrection of the discarded. Ala-Manus comments not only on the throw-away nature of contemporary society but, equally, its continual fragmentation, since these minutely-detailed images are often a fragment of a set of pieces.


The final work I must mention is Nicola Samori's Eufemia (2012), found in the topmost rooms of the house. Samori's work has a complicated relationship with the Italian Renaissance: he actively seeks to create art that destroys the seemingly impregnable façade of Renaissance art in his distressed images of classical scenes. In Eufemia, he depicts a classical Madonna, but this loving mother has had her face entirely obliterated, peeling away and falling across the painting. Samori looks beyond the Renaissance, using it to bear witness on the contemporary and to air Italy's current imperfections.


This is a very strong exhibition with many other equally rich works. Rankle has effectively addressed the themes of the exhibition, and visitors can expect to see interactions between the traditional and contemporary in a broad range of talented contemporary artists.


Date reviewed: Friday 1st February 2013

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