From the press release:
A collection of painted relief constructions will dominate the exhibition, but it will also include drawing by the 40-year-old resident artist at Princeton University, which will offer an opportunity to observe similarities in his approach to proportion and geometric relationships. The exhibit also includes the Oaxaca series of 14 litographs made during Ortman’s award-grant tenure at Tamarind Press Workshop last year.
During the nine years since Ortman developed the construction—three dimensional, painted and collaged objects, nearing sculpture—his work has combined creative manipulation of familiar shapes with a poetic flow of color, sometimes subdued but more frequently brilliant whether in monotone or vibrant contrast. According to the artist, his symbols, circles, squares, triangles are all based on anatomy, and he uses the figure as his source for all forms.
Among the constructions in the Renaissance Society exhibit are Chess Set, oil on wood with ping pong balls, for which he made the games movable pieces in symbolic shapes; Blue Diamond or the Finest Clothes, oil, collage and wood on masonite; Sun Totem, one of several vertical works inspired by a study of Haida Indian totem poles;* Hermaphrodite*, oil and plaster with objects; and Journey of a Young Man, a horizontal mounting of plaster and oil with objects. This collection’s single painting,* The Big Canvas*, resulted from Ortman’s analysis of the syymbology of the Gauguin painting,* Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?*