I met David Rankin, following his first exhibition at Watters Gallery, Sydney in October 1968. We were introduced by the late John Lane, a foundation member of the NSW Art Gallery Society, early collector of Australian art works, plus the guru of fashion who first bought the much-admired label Gucci to Australia.
By 1974, after five subsequent exhibitions, I was fully immersed in David Rankin’s art world, along with the Watters’ stable of emerging artists.
They included John Peart, Ann Thomson, Richard Larter and Tony Tuckson. The collective inspiration and enthusiasm of the artists was infectious.
Over 50 years I have watched David’s growth and output. Harking back to Elwyn Lynn’s review in The Weekend Australian, 29 August 1987…
‘Rankin is immersed in tracing the origins of signs in his works and like a number of other abstract painters exults over the constant rediscovery of the possibilities in that direction’.
He concludes, ‘Rankin presents memorable works seething with expressive urgency and with not a trademark in sight’.
Sasha Grishin’s review in The Canberra Times of 28 April 86, ‘Strongly attracted by oriental forms, the sense of calligraphic line is rarely absent from David Rankin’s surfaces.
Active, darting forms skip over the topographic contours suggestive of trees, ridges and boundless flat services with tiny pockets of precious detail and activity.
Two very precious qualities in David Rankin’s paintings are the sheer energy and vibrance with which the surfaces are treated and the sensuous joy with which he manipulates the painterly masses.’
Concluding, ‘He achieves a rare combination of an active, dynamic calligraphic surface, set against moody and lyrical expanses of colour’.
Though living in New York, David‘s commitment to the Australian landscape is an overarching influence on a considerable body of his work.
The 1983 Wynne Prize, numerous publications, books, extensive exhibitions both in Australia and abroad, are all a testament to his craft.
In 1982, David gave me a portrait of Catherine and Oscar, our first two children and currently, I’m delighted to be assisting the Conny Dietzschold Gallery at No I Crown Lane, East Sydney (so near Watters Gallery) where my journey with David’s work started.
An exhibition of David’s work will be opened by Melbourne art dealer Charles Nodrum on Wednesday, 12 September at 5:30pm and David will be present.
Phillip Harding, Guest Author Sydney, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018
Conny Dietzschold Gallery
September 5 – 22, 2018
1 Crown Lane, East Sydney
Charles Nodrum Gallery
September 6 – 9, 2018
267 Church Street, Richmond, Melbourne