The Art of David Rankine




Artist's Statement                             HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

"Music creates that resonance which vibrates through the whole being, lifting the thought above the denseness of matter - it almost turns matter into spirit. Sound is the force which groups all things from atoms to worlds"        

      -Inayat Khan ( a latter-day Sufi Master and musician).

An Elliptical Observation

   Every one of my creative endeavors  - whether it be musical, written word or visual, is an attempt, sometimes a fleeting one of capturing the essence of the "BIG ALL". Call it my "artist's vision" or simply my "inner truth", but it is always there and every painting is a view of it from a different angle or perspective.
 It is as if every painting or musical composition captures a very brief moment in time when the "veil" (which separates that which we see and sense in every day life from everything that is truly there -that which cannot normally be seen or explained) is parted and we are blessed with a brief glimpse of the truly rapturous beauty of the ALL THAT IS.
- and just what is this "vision"? Read on...
 The Note
I am often drawn towards painting images that portray life-force or a creation point - that place in time/space when All begins, when all is energy, vibration and distortion edging towards clarity. Some would call it the "note" - the sound of Genesis. Physicists would refer to it as the sound of the "big bang" - the background vibration of energy which permeates all of existence
In some traditions the note has a name- "Om" -and a symbol. To some it has a colour - blue and to others it is an identifiable note - "E" or  to some F#
Chaos and Control
I have always believed that Chaos and Control co-exist (simply look at nature) and it is that fine line between the two that I strive to capture using the dynamics of mass detailing. In each painting I want to create a blasting ferocity of colour and movement which still has within it a startling sense of clarity.
Besotted Creation
 In his book "Speaking in Tongues" poet Peter Jones writes: "The Hindus have a well defined mythology of Creation as being besotted: a vitality that so overflows its modalities that it appears totally chaotic: incomprehensible to the sober mind".
  Paintings such as Waterwheel, Maya and World Without End II (see Paintings -Carpet Pages and Mandalas) best exemplify this concept of Creation as being totally chaotic and wild- yet at the same time being ordered and controlled. Even my small paintings such as Arathusa and Peacock are imbued with this sense of "controlled chaos" - they are full of life force and indeed, appear to be bursting at the seams with it.
Transmutability of Form
  The transmutability of form inherent in Celtic art has always been a focus of my own paintings and at the same time I have been attracted to the time honoured method of Icon and Mandala design wherein the viewer is drawn in through the centre of the piece - into contemplation of themselves, the painting and alternative views of reality.
Artists' Statement
  I have always been inspired and fascinated by the Illuminated Manuscript traditions of many cultures, but foremost by the magnificent works of the Celtic World (the Book of Kells & the Lindisfarne Gospels). Arabic, Hindu, Persian and Hebrew influences all come into play. I fold these influences into my work , producing paintings which cross many borders and boundaries - works instantly identifiable as "Celtic" yet at the same time containing elements of other traditions
My Introduction
As a teenager I was heavily involved in Celtic music (highland bagpipes) and dance. When I first started looking at Celtic art in Art School I became aware that the fluidic circular rhythm found in the Celtic Manuscript art (eg. Book of Kells) could be directly linked to the same rhythms in Celtic music and dance. Indeed, there was a sense of controlled chaos in all of the Celtic art forms. I draw upon those thousands of hours of piping and dancing every day when I am creating new works.
The Creative Process
  My creative process follows a very distinct pattern. The ideas are almost continuous (thank heavens!) and it is the process of creating which far surpasses the finished work in importance. At times I actually feel dizzy while painting some of these works. Listening to the right music helps.
 For some paintings, it is literally a "direct to disc" situation where I just start painting with no preparatory work. In others, A sound, a note, a word or line from a song triggers me and I will quickly sketch out a thumbnail drawing on a scrap of paper. The next step is to lay out the geometric volumes with aid of t-squares and rulers (grade 7 drafting class!) and then all detail is added spontaneously. Obviously I make a poor chess player. I have learned to respect this process and I have also learned to carry paper and pencil with me at all times.
When the idea appears, then I know I have entered what I call the "Zone"
The "Zone"
  When I am creating I enter into the "zone" - that point at which my creative and intellectual sides are more fully integrated. Some call this being in a state of "flow awareness" and indeed, this is a fitting term as in this state of being , creativity literally flows. But where is this flowing from?.......the subconscious mind.
  The subconscious mind is a massive design "machine" wherein all life experiences, images and information are processed, stored, inter-related and inter-connected. When the subconscious mind is tapped massive amounts of flowing creativity can be accessed
  I also believe that there is more to it than just what is in the subconscious mind. There are also elements of what Carl Jung referred to as the " collective unconscious" at play along with the influences of " cellular memory" and "socio-sensual awareness". In other words, the subconscious mind is maybe just the "conduit" to larger sources.
 It is in this state of flow awareness that one becomes aware of there being more than what the orthodox five senses tell us is there. Outside of the definition of reality, as defined by the five senses, lies the place where the flow of energy and the interplay between molecular form and the energy which holds it together is made visible. Even time loses its linear modeling and the fluidic and cyclical nature of time is revealed.
The Creation Matrix
 "The creation matrix" is the term I use to describe this - the energy or thought behind energy ,form and matter. It flows through everything and makes everything One. Call it God if you will.
All of my paintings are attempts to portray the "controlled chaos" which is an inherent characteristic of the Creation Matrix and because Creation is in a state of constant flux, the paintings are all snapshots.
Getting There
For me, the quickest route into the "zone" is via the use of music - preferably music with a large circular rhythm , music that rides the fine line between chaos and order, distortion and clarity. To get a glimpse of this listen to: Radiohead's Kid A & OK Computer, the Who's Live at Leeds, Sigur-Ros, Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Rust Never Sleeps & Live Rust or anything by Dead Can Dance.
Many of these albums are by artists who "see" the Creation Matrix and are in a state of "flow awareness" while recording or performing. Neil Young's whole recording philosophy is about capturing that energy . If you listen to the instrumental tracks from the Who's Live at Leeds (Underture/Sparks) you will hear the interplay between ferocious blasts of distortion and feedback and incredibly clear and delicate notes of strummed chords. This is what I paint and this is what countless artists over the years have painted, danced, played and written about. It is the "BIG ALL".
One only has to listen to the build up and explosion of sound in the Who's "Underture" (Live at Leeds) while looking at the Chi Rho page from the Book of Kells to recognize the similarities in the two very different modalities. Try it! Close your eyes and you will see it!


                                                                                                                             David Rankine, Everett, 2009
                                   click here for notes on a HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

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