Check out my new exhibition review of “David Rankin: Earth and Light at Elizabeth Moss Galleries” in the August 2023 issue of the Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art. To read, click below:
By Stephen Wozniak
Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, August 2023
“So, I take this word ‘reconciliation’ and I use it to reconcile people back to Mother Earth, so they can walk this land together and heal one another because she’s the one that gives birth to everything we see around us, everything we need to survive.”
– Max Dulumunmun Harrison, Australian Aboriginal elder
David Rankin is a lot like painter Piet Mondrian. The works of each are often about relationships above all perceivable forms, however reduced, patterned or mingled upon a canvas. Mondrian strove for “pure relations” in art that attained the universal and, perhaps, even revealed unassailable absolutes, those disguised in the subjects of Impressionist, Cubist – and even his own – quasi-representational painting just prior to his celebrated primary color geometric grid work in the early 1920s through 1940s. Rankin, less a precision purist than a hands-on, heart-open pragmatist, came at it a little differently. His formative years in the Australian desert and bush country of Queensland add a dimension to his life experience that sets the artist closer to the earthen Aboriginal people he lived among and grew to admire than to abstract rules and fast forms of European modern high art, however noble they seemed.
After knee-deep reading of Buddhist tomes and experiencing a soul-altering, starlight phenomenon, Rankin began to see nature – in this case, the cosmos – as “continuous, seamless, interrelated and interconnected.” Nature is never something that exerts a force upon us, he discovered. Instead, it lies within us and extends beyond us. It is surely something we are. His work of this period, in turn, reflected a lifelong insider reverence for the natural world.
Our recognition of patterns in nature points to our understanding and appreciation of their kindred and even conflicted relationships, their power as a group and their diversity of inspiring differences. In this collection, Earth and Light, Rankin, of course, sees this, too, and celebrates it. Whether he does so in his scroll-format, landscape-like paintings or his bolder, lyrical, soft-petal pictures, he stays in touch with the rhythm and rumble of the languid desert sands and flaming volcanic ground under our feet, as well as the bright light shafts that shine from each of the whimsical entities that populate his art.
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