American (Oakland, Ca., 1926)
Reacting against expressionism and gestural painting but not against abstraction, George Ortman pursues essential mysteries by means of geometric symbolism. His work occupies a unique niche in 20th century American art after AbEx and before minimalism or Op (optical) abstract styles. While Robert Indiana declares “eternal hexagon” within his mandala form, Ortman uses a vocabulary of symmetrical universal forms -- squares, circles, crosses, equilateral triangles and the primary colors yellow, red, blue -- to create contemplative objects. His work is constructed or pieced together like a quilt or layered like pieces on a game board. This print uses the reverse of his additive process by cutting out forms. The absent crosses don’t disappear; instead, their shadows borrow dimension from the space behind the picture plane.