The Old Print Shop

George Nama

George Nama’s birthplace was Homestead, across the river from Pittsburgh, which in the early 1950s witnessed an intensively creative moment with a vibrant jazz scene and the Carnegie International exhibitions. Nama was a keen recorder of this stimulating environment as one can see in his evocative cityscapes.

He studied at Carnegie Mellon University (CIT) with undergraduate and graduate degrees. In the 1960s Nama worked at William Stanley Hayter’s influential Atelier 17 in Paris, where he was part of an international artistic circle. In 1981 he was elected to the National Academy of Design, New York. He was an influential teacher of draftsmanship and printmaking, while continuing to develop his own abstract take on natural forms.

During his long career, Nama has been represented in numerous exhibitions, galleries and public collections, such as The Morgan Library, the Boston Athenaeum, The Metropolitan Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and the Carnegie Institute. He has also been included in the distinguished international art fairs at Maastricht and the Salon de Dessin in Paris.

“Rarely have the languages of art and technology merged so harmoniously as in the art of George Nama.  His prints, landscapes of society’s psyche, assert themselves as iconic images.

The traditional print media do not easily lend themselves to strong iconic assertions.  Yet, Nama’s prints are palpable objects, strong and painterly. In order to produce these color intaglios, which exist simultaneously on the levels of object and metaphor, he has invented new techniques, synthesized the old, and created a nether-work.  Painting and print, reality and symbol, his work is pulled taut by a tension both abstract and literal. The opposing forms in his iconography literally express this aesthetic tension.  Ropes, knots, and flowing biomorphic forms in addition to disks and squares, are offset by seemingly stable geometric matrices in which they struggle.  Often, they are paralyzed by this struggle, yet even then one feels their frustration, their potential strength. 

Embossing of his plates, which produces a richly textured surface pattern, and the juxtaposition of the plates themselves onto the paper further assert the physical presence of Nama’s prints.  This presence, one of undefined depth and carefully blended and contrasted colors, does not equivocate.  The biomorphic vies with the mechanical, the individual with its organized background, yet neither recedes into resignation.  The identity of form and content which Nama achieves states the simple truth of existence as he perceives it to be.  In other words, the tensions are never resolved; they exist in the dialectic of eternal contradiction and stand for nothing but themselves.”  - Sylvan Cole, Jr. Director, Associated American Artists, NY