Certainly his seascape is rendered more realistically than my effort! Remember my loopy waves?
I love the scale of Ortner's work. It would be great to see his paintings close up sometime...
At the end of the full interview (which is not available online, unfortunately), the artist reveals a judgmental side, however. It is a side that -- as I mentioned in our December 7, 2011 meeting -- I fear lurks in Proust as well: the conviction that only making art gives meaning to life, whereas life without this sort of effort is otherwise empty and meaningless. They, Proust and Ortner, seem to see art as a kind of salvation (a salvation to which they have gained access, and others have not).
Here's the end of the interview:
Ortner: Life is tragic. It's not something particular to artists. Life is also glorious, an astonishing opera that we're all living. We long for the eternal, but we're destined for the grave. Everything we know and love is in the process of passing out of existence. But I think that making art is profoundly and fundamentally life affirming. To make art is to give, to pour yourself into life, so you don't die with the music inside you. You give it to your culture.
Conrad: What would happen if you kept the music inside you?
Ortner: You would have a stilted life, a stillborn life in which you never fully became who you are.
Conrad: What would you say to a young person who does not want to be an artist?
Ortner: Lucky bastard. [Laughs.]
Of course this last line is an easy laugh line, a throwaway piece of irony.
It is also not honest: Ortner has made it clear that he considers making art the highest calling of his life, and he holds that without it you would have a "stillborn life, in which you never fully became who you are."
Irritating. He wants it both ways: to be the wise sage, aware of the tragic in life, ("the heroic journey," he says in another part of the interview, is just "pissing in the wind") and to be a superior person who has figured out how to transcend the tragic by way of producing these paintings.
Just once I would like to hear a widely acclaimed artist say:
Hey, I love doing this.
Just like you I don't have any answers. But I love doing this.
I'm so glad you appreciate it...
Wouldn't that be refreshing?