The ocean mirrors the tempo of my body, the beating of my heart, the in and out of my breath. Waves like a metronome mark the present, each insisting: Now. In the ocean I am immersed in now. Yet in the ancient body of the sea I feel the root of time. In the pulsing surge I feel the wild place of my wilderness beginnings. There is no totem to the irrational more potent. Nothing points to the stirrings of my unconscious more than what lies below the surface. No peril feels more ominous. Yet the sea is where I bathe my wounds, where I get lost in all that is luxuriously infinite. Nothing is more symphonic, more effervescent, more delicately complete than the endless sea.
— Ran Ortner
Ran Ortner was born in San Francisco in 1959 and raised in rural Alaska. Before arriving at a career in art, Ortner worked on oil rigs off the coast of California and raced motorcycles professionally. Leaving Santa Barbara, California in 1990, Ortner relocated to Brooklyn, spending two decades working in solitude toward a distilled, minimalist vision. He was awarded the inaugural ArtPrize in 2009, which allowed his practice to flourish in a well-equipped new studio in DUMBO. Notable commissions followed, including a centerpiece for the United Nations’ World Water Day at the World Forum, The Hague, commissioned by the Dutch government, as well as works in the collections of 7 World Trade Center and Le Bernardin in New York City. His work has been exhibited at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ (2014); Robert Miller Gallery, New York, NY (2016); and the Phillips Museum of Art, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA (2016). In 2018, Ortner was named Ellen Maria Gorrissen Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, where he was awarded the Berlin Prize. He has been the subject of reviews in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, BBC News, and NPR. The artist presently lives and works in Brooklyn.