Stewart Nachmias : Cast Paper & Prints: Solo Exhibition

1 August - 31 December 2021
Video
Overview

Nachmias depicts aspects of his own life in an urban environment. The emphasis is nearly always on the manic energy that emanates from crowded jam sessions, puppet shows and tilting buildings. These prints celebrate both personal struggles and pleasures: a job's end, a new career begins, music is played and lovers kiss. There is an expressionist spirit here, with the black lines of the woodcuts seemingly hacking images into existence. 

--John Mendelsohn

Art tells us how to appreciate the world, in its beauty and in its disgrace. The woodcuts of Stewart Nachmias teach us to look with gratitude at life lived at ground level. The world he shows us is often raw, off-kilter and usually infused with humor, as it celebrates both urban life and the humanity he finds there.

Nachmias depicts aspects of his own life in an urban environment. The emphasis is nearly always on the manic energy that emanates from crowded jam sessions, puppet shows and tilting buildings. These prints celebrate both personal struggles and pleasures: a job's end, a new career begins, music is played and lovers kiss. There is an expressionist spirit here, with the black lines of the woodcuts seem- ingly hacking images into existence.

Expressionist as well is the distortion of observable reality for expressive ends. There is an immediacy and rudeness to the cartoon-like images of the sometimes contentious and often smiling denizens of Nachmias's world. In keeping with the lineage of these prints back to German Expressionism, a demo- cratic impulse prevails, on the side of the little guy making his way through the city that is falling down around him or being gentrified out from under him by a storm of cash.

In Nachmias's vibrantly colored woodcuts there is a range of emotions: the intensity of trumpeter mak- ing a joyful noise, the thrill of a Coney Island roller coaster, the grind of work day-to-day. The cast paper woodcut, The Bridge, Tanks, & Dumbo, with its altar-like arrangement of multiple scenes of an individual in the city, embodies the kind of indomitable brokenness that is so characteristic of this artist's vision.

In his series of mandalas, Nachmias creates a kind of contemplative pattern to embrace facets of his own life, giving them a sense of sacred wholeness. Mandala for the Puppeteer, is devoted to his creative work as a performer, with Nachmias as a six-armed god, manipulating six puppets. Other mandalas cel- ebrate the joy of a rock band, and the power of erotic love. As in his other work, Nachmias's images are both sincere and on the edge of satire. His work is direct and sensuous, with bold colors, strong linear patterns, and the sculptural low-relief of cast paper.

A darkness both literal and metaphorical contends with the hope and high spirits that are so much a part of Nachmias's work. In the end, that is how he is telling us to appreciate the world, as a real and dream-like theater of existential comedy.

- John Mendelsohn 

Works
Installation Views
Press release

Stewart Nachmias : Cast Paper & Prints

Woodstock, NY - Stewart Nachmias: Cast Paper & Prints is a virtual 3-D exhibition in a digital gallery that simulates 12 foot high ceilings and over 400 linear feet of installation space. Created in response to the pandemic, this exhibit displays multi-dimensional cast paper woodcuts that celebrate the energy of urban life in expressionist images drawn from Stewart Nachmias’ own experiences as a musician, performer and artist. Nachmias was born in 1958 in the borough of Queens in New York City, and grew up in Franklin Square, Long Island. As a child he began developing his interest in art along with ventriloquism. Introduced to etching in high school, Nachmias went on to major in printmaking at the State University of New York at New Paltz. After studying at New York University, he worked in Bob Blackburnʼs Printmaking Workshop, where he met a wide range of artists. He then helped establish Studio 827, a printmaking atelier located on Union Square in New York.

In the 1990s the artist began the cast paper wood cuts that he continues to create. His deeply carved wood blocks are both inked directly and act as molds for the hand-dyed paper pulp which Nachmias applies to the surface. The result is a print in low relief, with rich color embedded in its dimensional surface. Nachmiasʼs work has grown to encompass images of exuberant musicians, puppet shows, and working men, all recalling aspects of the artistʼs own life playing in bands, performing for children and on the job in printmaking studios. There are works which show in vivid colors the spirit of the individual in an urban environment full of danger and excitement. A recent group of three 36″x 48″ woodcuts focus on the nostalgic charms of Coney Island. And an ongoing series of mandalas, devoted to music, puppets, love, and the creative brain give a sense of sacred completeness to the artistʼs antic vision.

 

Nachmias has shown his work in many exhibitions, including recent solo shows at the Kehila Kedosha Janina Museum (NYC), Fairleigh Dickinson University, NJ, Makor Center (NYC), Hartwick College, (Oneonta, NY), Brick City Gallery, (Springfield, MO), Hardin Center for Cultural Arts (AL), the SPIVA Center for the Arts, (MO), Albany Museum of Art (GA), Coral Springs Museum of Art (FL), the Wichita Falls Museum of Art (TX,)  Alexandria Museum of Art (LA), Texas A&M University, SUNY Oswego (NY), Longview Museum of Fine Arts (TX), the Banana Factory (PA), and Long Island University Brooklyn (NY). Group exhibitions include the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists' Coalition (NYC), Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild (Woodstock, NY), Schweinfurth Art Center (Auburn, NY), Cross Contemporary Art, Saugerties (NY), Watermark Cargo Gallery, Kingston (NY), Susan Teller Gallery, Soho (NYC), MDH Fine Arts, Chelsea (NYC), the DeCordova Museum (MA) and many others. He was recently honored to have been the juror of the 26th Annual September International Art Competition at the Alexandria Museum of Art and at the 53rd Student Invitational Art Competition, Longview Museum of Fine Arts.