Gerard Rancinan presents a set of striking and often macabre images, yet beyond the initial shock there are subtle nuances and finer details to his art that can take some time to fully sink in.
At first it might seem like he’s railing against popular culture by stripping Mickey Mouse of his innocence, or by removing the sense of justice that goes hand in hand with Batman. But, on further examination, it’s evident that Rancinan is more concerned with removing the veneer that lies over these characters, and both facing and embracing the harsh reality that lies beneath. All of his photographs are chock full of small details and you need to spend a few minutes with each piece to spot them all.
When we spoke to Rancinan he told us the picture of Mickey Mouse martyred as Saint Sebastian is about highlighting the changes we’ve seen in modern society. For the past 2,000 years until recently, Saint Sebastian has been an inspiring figure in western Europe. Now, most people wouldn’t recognise representations of his martyrdom. Mickey Mouse, however, is globally recognised as the commercial face of Disney, despite not featuring on TV or in the cinema for decades. The religious tones to Rancinan’s work highlight the importance we place on these characters and how misplaced this can be.
These pieces have both a cheeky sense of humour and a deeper message around not taking everything portrayed in the media at face value. Yes, this may be another artist taking a pop at contemporary culture but he’s done it in an inventive and engaging manner, which has both a visual impact and an underlying subtlety.
Gerard Rancinan: Wonderful World is on display at Londonewcastle project space, 28 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP until 24 June. Free.
A final photograph for the exhibition was made using volunteers. A video of this photoshoot may be found here.