David Rankin: Showcased – Charles Nodrum & Mossgreen Gallery

Detail:  David Rankin, Gil Gal-tracks, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 140 x 223 cm
Detail: David Rankin, Gil Gal-tracks, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 140 x 223 cm
Detail:  David Rankin, Gil Gal-tracks, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 140 x 223 cm

Detail: David Rankin, Gil Gal-tracks, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 140 x 223 cm, courtesy artist, photo by Phillip Harding

The Charles Nodrum Gallery and the Mossgreen Gallery at Melbourne have advised they will concurrently present two exhibitions of the works, past and present by acclaimed New York based abstract artist David Rankin (b. 1946) from August 17, 2017.

David Rankin AB

David Rankin in his Shelter Island studio with two of his recent works. Photo Annette Hinkle

David Rankin has participated in well over one hundred exhibitions in cities and countries around the world including at New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Mexico, Vienna, Berlin and Cologne, as well as all over Australia.

Represented in many of the world’s leading public and private collections and museums, David Rankin’s work is featured in Australia’s leading institutions, including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria and Queensland Art Gallery.

Spending his most formative years in Sydney, during the 1970’s, David Rankin founded the Port Jackson Press to produce fine art prints at a time when he had numerous solo and group exhibitions on display internationally.

It was a time when many young Australians were in their 20’s and heading overseas to Europe to help expand their horizons and to learn about their cultural inheritance.

For artists going overseas to work at the time it was not only about growing their expertise, but also about challenging themselves to succeed on an international platform.

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David Rankin, Djarum, 1974, acrylic on canvas, courtesy artist, Private Collection and Charles Nodrum Gallery

Awarded the Wynne Prize in 1983 (Australia’s most prestigious landscape award) David Rankin’s aim was all about exploring his own inner spiritual terrain. This was a concept seemingly little understood at that time, however it was well evident in his work exhibited in Sydney from 1968.

David Rankin, Husband & Wife, 1995 Acrylic on canvas, courtesy artist and Mossgreen Gallery

David Rankin, Husband & Wife, 1995
Acrylic on canvas, courtesy artist and Mossgreen Gallery

I remember his work well throughout the 70’s because I used to haunt art galleries in those days, seeking to understand how new artists were helping  to lead the way forward, reinventing the world through creativity, after the horrors of World War II.

His wife Lily Brett’s parents had survived the holocaust and he was helping in his own way to turn the darkness into light. His Jerusalem series followed a trip to the holy land in 1988.

David decamped to New York from Australia with Lily in 1989, where he had first arrived as a two year old with his emigrating English parents.

Praised for the power, insight and quality of his work, he was selected as Australia’s official representative in the UNESCO Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition, celebrations that toured the capital cities of the world.

Through abstraction David Rankin was endeavouring to express in visual terms that which cannot be expressed easily in words and he did it very well.

David Rankin: Jerusalem Wall & Shadow, 1990, Acrylic on canvas, courtesy artist and Mossgreen Gallery

David Rankin: Jerusalem Wall & Shadow, 1990, Acrylic on canvas, courtesy artist and Mossgreen Gallery

He used colour and form as a metaphor for his own emotions at a time many may have thought it uncool, by combining elements from both Aboriginal and Asian art practices.

It was 2013 when Dore Ashton the American art critic, teacher and writer released a book on Rankin’s work, David Rankin: The New York Years. She commented… David Rankin ‘… felt… any Australian Art had to have a sense of place and that is nowhere better expressed than in Aboriginal painting’.

During 2005-2006 a major retrospective of David Rankin’s work toured major national Australian galleries to critical acclaim.

Charles Noddrum

Gallery owner Charles Nodrum

Recently I posed questions to Charles Nodrum of the Charles Nodrum Gallery who will be showcasing the historical works of David Rankin from the 60’s and 70’s, perhaps the works I know best.

  • Do you have an underlying philosophical approach to your practice?

Not really.  I’m a collector as much as a dealer which, at times, can create conflicts between my collecting and my business. But what I handle reflects my personal taste: I try and sell what I’d like to own myself, and this always makes the sales process genuine – but, as noted, occasionally conflictual.

Generally speaking I present three types of exhibitions:  solo shows of works from artists; solo shows of works from estates; and group shows from a mixture of the two, together with consignments and stock.  You could say these strands – contemporary and historical – combine to create my gallery’s style.

  • When did you first meet David Rankin?
David Rankin, Hillside Haiku, 1968, oil on board, 86 x 90cm, Image Courtesy The Artist and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Photography by Jason Penny

David Rankin, Hillside Haiku, 1968, oil on board, 86 x 90cm, Image Courtesy The Artist and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Photography by Jason Penny

In the 1980s, when we did a show. I pioneered a format which is now being revived – to exhibit the early work of an artist in conjunction with their current gallery: I exhibited the 60s and 70s paintings of Peart, Aspden, Rankin and Sansom and am considering extending this practice once more, since the format worked well.

  • What is it that you admire about his work?

I am particularly keen on the work from the 60s (the dot-based landscapes) and the 70s (with their overlapping swathes of colour) and both strands represents significant branches of the abstraction was practised at the time. On this score the work coheres well with that of other artists I admire, exhibit and collect.

  • How do you go about preparing for an exhibition of his work?

Whilst I have handled numerous works of David’s on the secondary market, exhibitions are another matter.  Initially he wondered what we might do, and I suggested we repeat the exercise outlined above – an extensive survey of several decades in two galleries simultaneously.

It is an unusual arrangement but Mossgreen were flexible, and prepared to act jointly, since both David and I were able to assure them it had proved interesting and mutually beneficial.  We are currently close to finalising our selection, which, with David based in New York we do via the internet, sending images back and forth and talking on the phone.

Louth I, 1969, oil on board, 51 x 76cm Image Courtesy The Artist and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Photography by Jason Penny

Louth I, 1969, oil on board, 51 x 76cm Image Courtesy The Artist and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Photography by Jason Penny

  • Do • Do you believe David Rankin’s artworks will endure – if so, why?

I would not show it if I thought it was ephemeral and I have long held his work in my personal collection.  However, artists that move away from Australia can find it takes time to re-establish themselves, so it would be unrealistic to assume it will be plain sailing. This said, David’s personal and visual connections with Australians and their landscape is strong, and his energy is positive and infectious.

The Charles Nodrum Gallery and Mossgreen Gallery will be showcasing the very best works of a man who has forged his own special place in the world of meaningful thought provoking art in our contemporary world.

Blind Player, 1973, oil on canvas, 183 x 185cm Image Courtesy The Artist and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Photography by Jason Penny

Blind Player, 1973, oil on canvas, 183 x 185cm Image Courtesy The Artist and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Photography by Jason Penny

Over the course of the time leading up to the exhibition we will be welcoming further articles on the coming David Rankin shows.

Contributors will include Long Island based Allison Weibye, currently working with artist David Rankin in New York where she is helping confirm all the choices of works being made to be on show here. She will share her personal experiences and provide a unique perspective on the works to be shown overall.

Lisa Ferhily, Director of the Mossgreen Gallery, gallery owner Charles Nodrum and our Deputy Editor Belinda McDowall will also offer their insights

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017

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