Rankle & Reynolds
Works on paper
Available Works

River America

Sarah Lloyd

River America
James Baird Gallery Newfoundland, Canada
12th May - 31st May 2012

This new suite of landscape paintings reflects Rankle's increasing preoccupation with the energetics of material transformation and it's relationship to the immaterial and the image. Through metaphor and the referencing of relationships in natural phenomena the 'River America ' series flags up issues of subjectivity, social agency and the politics of leverage. It evokes the intricacies and flows of power through territories and subjects, and the impacts on the natural world. Rankle speaks about painting as "something that has always been practised to invoke magical and transformatory power, from early cave painting when the hunter scratched the image of a deer on the cave wall before he went hunting. It's a spiritual activity, like tracking or stalking the energy of the thing that you are trying to reach towards.The gesture of reorientation is like a ritual that creates the space in which a new energy can arise".


Rankle practised and taught T'ai Chi Ch'uan extensively as a young man, hung out with Fritjof Capra, author of 'The Tao of Physics ', and like Capra, was inspired too by Oriental philosophy. He has a long held fascination with the shamanistic use of landscape and the embedded spiritual relationships evoked by ancient calligraphy and the corporeallybased spirituality of Zen and Tai Chi. " We develop a world through signs and signals, but when it's just you and the elements, when you walk out at three in the morning, and there is nothing else but your connection, just yourself and this great unknown world....to grasp this without preconceptions you have to go beyond language, and a different narrative needs to be engaged with.. a unique feeling, not a set of words or concepts ".


Rankle returns in his paintings again and again to the landscapes of the Languedoc. In the 'En Pays Cathare' series, he focuses on an area renowned for its significance to the Cathars, a medieval progressive society who revered the energy of the land and the landscape as imbued with spirit, before they were ruthlessly persecuted and annihilated by the Catholic church. Rankle's interest in this region resonates across many metaphorical layers mythical, political and cultural, he is as attracted to the traces of power struggle, as he is to the sheer atmospheric beauty of the landscape.  Significant for Rankle too are figures like Joseph Beuys , Anselm Kiefer, Antoni Tapies, artists who utilised found materials while dealing with questions of deep social importance. All three addressed the spiritual and political corruption that was unfolding around them in the same manner that Rankle orients us towards a more robust investigation of the capacity of virtual global elites to sabotage the entire world economy. His paintings seem to urge us to think about the effects of mining, weapons testing and dealing, pesticide use and oil corporations on environments and vulnerable species who cannot speak for themselves, and to enact our analyses from embodied subjectivity not from shallow short termism and the politics of elite profiteering. There is a clear irony in the way we glibly frame terrorism as evil, as something terrible done to society by hostile outsiders, when the most profound and lasting social damage of our time is being done by global banking and financial institutions who are still legally paying themselves six figure salaries, whilst preaching austerity for everyone else.

    "I am increasingly using the vernacular tradition of landscape painting itself as a found material, in the same way that Tapies would find a mattress in a skip and transform it into a work of art ".
Beuys too was a champion of shamanistic perception, and there is a way that Rankle is similarly exploring how we locate agency through our capacity to perceive situated possibilities, to find leverage within existential and political complexity. The act of perception is the location through which we experience the landscape but the locus of perception is actually the bodymind, as the mind can never be uncoupled from the networks of the living body. Yet we live in a world where we project identities through digital networks more frequently than we actually move physically and these very power exchanges are increasingly responsible for mobilising the degradation of the social, physical and geological world. How then can we speak about landscape painting without also being aware of all of this. "Kiefer painted landscapes that represented the aftermath of war, that were equally about power as they were about terrain". In a similar way Rankle sees landscape painting as a vehicle for distilling his observations about the fabric of society.


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