Rankle fuses aspects of Classical/Romantic painting with Abstract Expressionistic gestures; he paints trompe l'oeil elements as though from a 19th Century naturalist’s journal. He knowingly references conceptual asides to provide an undercurrent of contemporary unease. All these elements collide as portentous montages in the paintings, depicting a world splintering and fragmenting towards chaos, yet still evoking an eerie, and somehow threatening, illusion of harmony.
In 1998 the critic, Anthony Wallersteiner observed that Rankle’s paintings "represent re-workings of a single theme: that of a sudden encounter with a dark edge of water - a pond or river - on the outskirts of the city. A place reeking of desolation and the potential energy of decay, the meeting of urban and rural landscape.” Now in the 21st Century that dark edge looms between our whole planet and the abyss.
As with much of Rankle's work this evolving series has a multi-layered aspect. The 2007 title 'Formal Concerns' for example refers to the way "abstract" artists of the 1970s, when Rankle was a student, would distance their work from an involvement with "ordinary life" and political issues by using the term to describe their aims. It refers also to the belated pronouncement by the British Government's Chief Scientist who recently expressed "Formal Concerns" on the subject of Global Warming. Further to this, the title could be considered in the light of Rankle's interest in the formal structures within the Baroque and Modernist paintings he emulates.
Individual painting titles: 'Hybrid', 'Landscape with Electrostatic', 'Fællenparken: Ice Shelf', 'Picturesque: Industrial Memoir of the Earth & Air', 'Running from the House' and 'Pastoral Collateral' add to an informed reading of these works.
Putting all of these social and political implications aside (as Robert Smithson once put it "sooner or later politics comes and bites the artist in the ass”), Rankle is equally keen to state his intention is essentially to create a language for landscape art in modern times.