Gerard Rancinan’s work is incomparable and inimitable in the sense that it is peculiarly authentic, not only in its artistic extension but even beyond that: it condemns, it disturbs and it shocks. His approach is multiple. Behind an exacerbated aesthetic, his work is incisive, it is a sharp vitriolic scalpel, meticulously dissecting modern humanity and its metaphors through an open and opulent denunciation. Here, the style is neither reassuring nor optimistic, art has to shock, to overturn generally accepted ideas and prejudices. Isn’t it the very principle of art ?
We don’t need to introduce Gerard Rancinan anymore, a prolific creator and photographer. Before anything, he is an engaged photographer, a hands-on type of man who doesn’t use photography as a medium for a purely graphic and visual creation but more as a means to express and convey a message, an impression or a criticism. For those who don’t know anything about his career, certain elements need to be pointed out. After 3 years spent at the Sud Ouest newspaper in Bordeaux as an apprentice in the photographic department, Gerard Rancinan becomes the youngest photojournalist in France at 18 years old. Noticed by the press agency Sygma, he starts covering and tackling news topics all around the world: wars, riots, earthquakes, world cups and Olympic games. Simultaneously, as a greedy and voracious researcher, he makes portraits of the fashion world, sports and cinema business as well as contemporary artists. In 1986, he leaves Sygma to start his own agency and then starts making portraits of the greatest and most untouchable people: Fidel Castro, John-Paul II, François Mitterrand, Roy Lichtenstein, Yasser Arafat, Bill Gates… and signs covers of the greatest magazines of the time like Life Magazine or the Sunday Times…
From then on, Gerard Rancinan’s work is known worldwide. He is shown in numerous galleries and international museums as part of their prestigious private contemporary art collections. In 2008, during an auction at the Drouot Hotel, Gerard Rancinan became one of the best listed French photographer of contemporary art. In 2012, his rating is confirmed by a record sale of his photography “Batman girls” in London. Two years later, on May 18th, 2014 , the sale of “The Feast of the Barbarians” (page 98) for 260 000 euros promotes him to the rank of the most expensive French painter (in his lifetime). In his work, Gerard Rancinan intertwines 2 notions: artistic photography and photojournalism. Although inspired by everyday life and the reality of the surrounding world, his photographs are allegories, poetic frescoes depicting the sometimes hidden truths of the world. As a historian, he reinterprets the great classical masters’ paintings like Caravaggio, Velasquez or Jerome Bosch in order to model them on himself, his interpretation, tainted with sex, drugs and rock n’ roll in a dystopic universe: our own contemporary society. We met the photographer, Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, in his studios in Ivry, a huge lab devoted to creation and research.
In your work, Man is at the center of everything, he is the epicenter of a “whole”… Do you wish to stretch the limits of your work ?
Do you want to create and to transfigure the new man ? I wish nothing like that in any case! I am neither an activist nor a prophet. To quote Phillip Murray’s sentence: “being an alert witness of the metaphors of our humanity” is enough for me! I escort my contemporaries, I observe them in their momentary revivals, their hesitations, their deviances, their illusions. I criticize them, I dissect their acts and gestures. In tell a story about my era, I project their own image as many lighthouses, I talk about us !
How do your pictures come to life ?
Where do you find your inspiration? By observing all those little human beings in shirts becoming agitated but also watching TV, listening to the radio, reading newspapers, and finally paying close attention to anything that can get me some information on their physical and intellectual behaviors.
What is your driving force in life ?
Passion ! But also abnegation !
Is taking photographs a way to distort reality ? In other words, to which extent is you camera lying ?
There isn’t more reality than there are lies. There is one reality, that of the author, but there isn’t in any case a reality in the sense of “real world”! There is a firm stance, a framing, a point of view, a role-playing, an interpretation, a technique. There isn’t any objectivity or chance. The photographer plays the photographer’s part and the person photographed plays the person who is being photographed. Photography is a moment’s sham!
What is your opinion on the mercantilism of art: can art and money coexist ?
I think that they are two parallel worlds, one having almost nothing to do with the other. The artist who takes a pictures in his studio, who shows it to the public and who exposes himself has a totally different and opposite approach than the one who sells it to his gallery owner or art merchant. On the other side, an artist must live off his work and when a collector buys a photography he isn’t buying a piece of plastic on which there is an image but a piece of a thought, of the brain of the artist. Does this really has a price?...
- Meet Rancinan in Normal Magazine n°5 et n°7 -