DON RANKIN

The Poppy Project 2011

80 x 60 cm<br>oil on canvas
100 x 160 cm<br>oil on canvas
80 x 60 cm<br>oil on canvas
100 x 160 cm<br>oil on canvas

80 x 60 cm<br>oil on canvas
100 x 160 cm<br>oil on canvas
160 x 120 cm<br>oil on canvas
100 x 160 cm<br>oil on canvas

75 x 60 cm<br>oil on canvas
100 x 160 cm<br>oil on canvas
75 x 60 cm<br>oil on canvas
75 x 60 cm<br>oil on canvas

120 x 160 cm<br>oil on canvas
60 x 75 cm<br>oil on canvas
75 x 100 cm<br>oil on canvas
60 x 45 cm<br>oil on canvas

60 x 45 cm<br>oil on canvas
60 x 45 cm<br>oil on canvas
80 x 60 cm<br>oil on canvas

Variously white, salmon pink or crimson, golden yellow or orange, the delicate petals unfold almost seductively from the confinement of a rounded pod that turns upward at the point of opening. These pods and crinkled blooms of the Icelandic poppy – languid, papery and faintly fragrant – are the sole subjects of Don Rankin’s latest series of paintings. The unusually overt life cycle of the Papaver nudicaule – as the petals begin to fall and its upright stems to droop – is emblematic of the fragility, of the tenuous nature of all living things.  
 
Clearly Rankin’s works contain multiple art-historical references and in earlier still life paintings, for example, he devised witty means of alluding to the dual strands of influence of Giorgio Morandi and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. His distinctive groupings of objects – in which a pair of pears might be presented alongside a cocktail shaker or a Japanese bowl – were frequently imbued with a contemporary urban sensibility. However, his broader frame of reference extends beyond the contemplative quietness of Chardin and the modernity of Morandi, to encompass the palette of the post-impressionists and the Fauves and the geometric structure of Mondrian.  
 
In a new development, the defining element of The Poppy Project is a series of diptyches, in which (subject matter aside) the individual panels are either unrelated, or alternatively part of a single image that has been spliced and carefully reconfigured. It is a formal strategy that simultaneously introduces a rhythmic flow and resonant echoes between the recurring forms. Moreover, it is no coincidence that the diptyches assume the proportion of the Golden Section – a defining tenet of Italian Renaissance art.
 
Intended to provoke an affirmative acknowledgement of the human condition, Rankin’s optimistic poppy paintings – colourful, lush, occasionally erotic – are unburdened by the intensity of Sylvia Plath’s ‘little hell flames’ 1, the decadence associated with Thomas de Quincey’s opiate blooms or the sombre symbolism of the scarlet Flanders poppy.  
 
Wendy Walker and Don Rankin, March 2011
 
Endnotes
1. Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) employed this description in her poem ‘Poppies in July’ from The Collected Poems.

The Poppy Project 2011 was exhibited at Eva Breuer Art Dealer from 14-25 May 2011.

Eva Breuer Art Dealer
83 Moncur Street
Woollahra NSW 2025 Australia

tel: (61 2) 9362 0297
email: art@evabreuerartdealer.com.au
 

This Page Updated: 9 November 2011