A   S E M I G R A N T   M I R R O R



Metaphor, satire, and the crafted image conspire subconsciously to form Jeff Rankin’s visual language, through which the artist tells visual stories based on South Africa’s unsettled social landscape.



In 1993 Jeff semigrated with his family, from KZN to the Eastern Cape. The move coincided with South Africa’s transition to a hopeful democracy. Thirty years have elapsed, and now seemed as perfect a time as any to celebrate these 30 years of creative work. Soon after the move, the artist revisited his early love of woodcut. Working out of a dark field, as you do with the relief mediums, worked well in Jeff’s case. Some singular works built up to the landmark Perlemoen Minutes series (2002). This full series was purchased for the New York Public Library’s fine print collection, and some were selected for the International Print Biennale in Trois Rivieres, Canada.

Jeff was on a role, so to speak: the 22 years since Perlemoen have seen a wide range of printmaking and other production, and many solo and group exhibitions in the Eastern Cape and elsewhere. The artworks move across many stories, often told as a series: the Climb series of etchings, for example, speaks about the workplace through Jeff’s challenging experience; Then Now is a series which pairs with the artist’s political cartoons done in 1980’s KZN; and the 2024 series Extinction Asylum moves through a progressive environmental insanity of human neglect.



Born in Durban, Jeff completed four courses in Fine Art in SA and the UK, majoring in Printmaking and Drawing. He obtained his MA at Stellenbosch University. By then he was already based in the Eastern Cape, having co-founded the Fine Art programme at Walter Sisulu University. After 15 years at WSU, he took early retirement to focus on his creative work and existential independence.

The focus on Printmaking came with a love of all things graphic, allowing him to inject his satirical essence into the languages of print and drawing. He has an extensive history of exhibitions covering five decades, his work held in public and private collections in South Africa and internationally. Alongside his fine art career, he has worked – and continues to work – as an editorial artist, contributing since the 1970’s to various newspapers, journals, magazines, and books. Jeff’s essential creative refuge is that of any fine artist – the studio of the mind. His studio of practice has a wonderful view over the southern tip of the Wild Coast and is soon also to be a private gallery of his work. He offers art workshops with hands-on printmaking for the experienced artist or for beginners.