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Alan Rankle

Nicholas Usherwood

Galleries Magazine, April 1998
  It is a brave and tenacious artist who deliberately paints the landscape in the late 20th Century and still wishes to be considered a 'modern'. Why, in a world filled with ethnic cleansing, religious bigotry and looming environmental disaster, paint the landscape? And how? It can and has, been done - Sidney Nolan and Peter Lanyon for starters. Nonetheless the critical anxiety surrounding the subject must go some way to explaining why an artist like Alan Rankle, now into his 40s and painting landscapes so eloquently and unmistakably of our own time, is still not much better known than he is.

It is not for want of trying on his part; his published exhibition catalogues and writings of the last fifteen years or so confirm his own clear understanding of what he is aiming to do as well as containing some weighty critical contributions from other writers. But there is nothing, as yet, from the critical world at large, that shows any real signs of recognition for the contemporary character of his achievement.

My instinct is that, both as a painter and writer, he really needs to forget all about that and focus instead, even closer and tighter, on those particular qualities in the work itself that make the best of the paintings on show here, paintings like Study after Claude Lorrain 1 and Journey of the City III for example, such memorable images. In them his intuitive passions and natural gifts as a painter weld all his intellectual, philosophical and artistic concerns, which range from Chinese painting and the Tai Chi to the English landscape tradition, and much else besides, into paintings which, in their obvious love of the wild places of the world and of the spirit, render discussions about Post-Modernism, Conceptualism and so on, so much art-historical chatter. Danielle Arnaud is showing Alan Rankle's landscapes at Clink Wharf from April 3rd to the 26th

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