Ran Ortner (b.1959, USA)
San Francisco-born artist Ran Ortner’s background as a professional motorcycle racer influenced his interest in art. Drawn to the physicality and energy of motorcycle racing, Ortner later transferred this dynamism into his approach to painting:
“Water is a manifestation of the multitude of wave energies that surround us, a formless, colorless, tasteless, odorless “billowing solid” (Wallace Stevens), visible to our eye only with the addition of light. A single drop potentially mirrors everything that surrounds it. Water embodies the concept of endlessness, of complexities repeated fractally from one drop to the vast sea. I expose the identity of the ancient body of the ocean with integrity by being hyper-observant to its nature, focusing on the structure, synchronicity, and oscillations of the waves.
Yet I am interested in conveying how the ocean resonates, rather than depicting it. Constantly moving in a dance that mirrors the tempo of the human body, waves break in time with the beating of our hearts, the in and out of our breaths, like a metronome marking the present moment: now, now. My paintings are about being immersed in this present. For that reason, the horizon and any other reference points are disappeared, a move that detaches my work from the tradition of marine paintings, from Caspar David Friedrich, Turner, the Hudson River. Now we are not a distant observer, but all in.
How I paint today evolved from the minimalism I practiced for years while making all white panels that echo the reign of space and silence, the sparseness of Rainer Maria Rilke "living the questions.” The courage and emotional complexity of Rembrandt also influence my work, which nevertheless lives in the continuity of Abstract Expressionism. It connects with the luminosity and vastness of Mark Rothko’s transcendent fields of color as well as the vitality and intensity of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings.
Each day, in one painting after the next, I attend to an ever deeper engagement and understanding.“