image - artist Ken Bortman

Someone doing a painting in a calm location versus a photographer in a war zone – it affects the tone and energy of the work. Read The Madness of the Day by Maurice Blanchot and you’ll see. I get some ESP ideas occasionally, and notate that in my sketchbook, then decide later to take that “advice” or not. The energies in the location support things – it’s my decision whether to use it or not, to try to notate it with materials… Jasper Johns used the same things. In the book from his Whitney [Museum] retrospective, they asked Johns if he was schizophrenic and he said he was – and he and Willem de Kooning made the most money of any painters alive during their lifetime.

I hope viewers find something of interest in my work. Picasso said in the course of making a painting, he might make a mistake, and sometimes he’d leave the mistake, so that if someone else saw it at least they were looking at the painting. (Bortman, K.)

Ken Bortman (b. 1953) makes drawings and sculpture, and has an extensive background in prints and painting. Bortman received his BFA from The School of the Art Institute in 1979, studying printmedia with Ray Martin and Doug Houston, and painting with Ray Yoshida. He enjoyed early success at the School as a young artist. He moved to New York City to be a part of the Greenwich Village art scene, and it was there that he began collecting scrap wood and other materials for art making. When he moved back to Chicago several years later he was represented by Lorenzo Rodriguez Gallery, and then later by the David Leonardis Gallery. Though the artist is new to Project Onward (he joined in 2013), he brings with him decades of expertise, art historical knowledge and a distinct art practice of his own. Bortman lives in Kelvyn Park, Chicago.