Gérard Rancinan: XXL at the Opera Gallery
Gérard Rancinan (1953-) is a French artist and photographer whose work provides a commentary on contemporary society and the issues it currently faces. Rancinan uses the medium of large-scale staged photography to create monumental mises en scènes that dramatise events of historical importance, such as urban riots, natural catastrophes and civil wars. His investigative method is shaped by his earlier career as a photojournalist, which won him a handful of World Press Photo Awards during the 1980s. Combined with his role as artist, he creates startling images of events observed as manifestations of the human condition, the complexity of which his aesthetic method is to deconstruct.
Rancinan’s latest exhibition XXL, at the Opera Gallery, features five monumental photographs taken from his epic series Trilogy of the Moderns. The works treat the metamorphoses of human experience, which can be witnessed in contemporary society’s fixation on celebrity and the desire to play their roles. The series is concluded by The Feast of the Barbarians 2013, marking the apogee of Rancinan’s representation of human decadence.
Rancinan’s photojournalistic influence can also be observed in works such as Riots 2013, which depicts contemporary urban riots and the search for identity underlying these. Rancinan’s style is not to produce verisimilar representations of contemporary riots as captured by a single snapshot. Rather, he seeks to dramatise the events by staging an assemblage of multiple storylines within a single frame, in order to deliver a powerful and comprehensive visual argument to the viewer.
In the downstairs room of the Opera Gallery, the photographs exhibited take a more abstract form, as Rancinan delves deeper into the relationship between elements of contemporary society and the human psyche. Set against a white background, possibly signifying the subconscious, each photograph depicts one or more figures constituting an embodiment of the human condition, the universality of which is fostered by the faceless figures’ anonymity. In an ironic gesture, one of Rancinan’s images is of an art dealer claiming to be holding a valuable piece of art, his head stuck up a copy of newspaper The Art Dealer.
Rancinan’s work is exhibited internationally, and the photographs at the XXL exhibition have been brought together from museums, including the Palais de Tokyo and the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, and the Triennale Museum in Milan, across the globe.
Photos: Erol Birsen
Gérard Rancinan: XXL is at the Opera Gallery from 18th March until 3rd April 2014. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.