Rankin has sustained his provisional and improvisatory method of working so that the meanings and interpretations remain manifold, limited only by the spectator's imagination. When he worked in Barcelona, for instance, he began to photographically record moving models, often synthesising different movements. At the same time he ruthlessly eliminated any hints of spatial setting so that the figures, rather than being located somewhere specific, merely inhabit an indeterminate void. In order to keep the paintings weighty and substantial though he deployed layers of household gloss and meatier oil (working both thinly and thickly is one of his professional instincts).
These paintings are unmistakably influenced by photography, the figures (vague presences) being blurred and foggily immaterial. The only evidence of their humanity in the 'Torso' series particularly is the meticulous depiction of salient and emotive bodily parts, (mouth, nipples, navel and pubic hair).
Since his return from Spain, these procedures, wherein 'things happen in paint', have recurred to a greater degree. One painting, for instance, contains three presences or apparitions strangely composed (one appears to be walking in mid air). Why are they androgynous? What are they looking at? Why donít they look at each other? Are they perhaps called Vladimir, Estragon and Pozzo?
Elsewhere are figures which, drained of colour, resemble scapegoats. These are the inhabitants of the existential void, of Lear's 'blasted heath', Dante's 'Purgatory' or of 'Ground Zero'. They survive as tragic metaphors of human vulnerability and alienation. Paradoxical though it may seem however, I believe that this work is ultimately affirmation, an endorsement of E.M. Foster's humane injunction, 'Only connect'.