Artist Interview: Ana Maria Nomico (Setubal, Portugal)

What drew you to printmaking when your background was originally in architecture?

After attending an initial printmaking workshop by chance whilst holidaying in South Africa, I became riveted by the medium. Afterwards I was fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue this interest in earnest at an art centre in Qatar on a weekly basis. I was drawn to pursue architecture as a profession because it is a marriage of art and technology; in a similar vein, I was attracted to printmaking which incorporates art and elevated technical skills.

How does your career in architecture inform your printmaking and creation of conceptual art?

Architectural design is a reflective practice, and I find that reflection is equally valuable in the process of art-making. Architecture involves visual conceptualisation which is directly applicable to art-making, and elements of design are as relevant to architecture as they are to art.

Architectural design is responsive to a series of requisites, such as users’ requirements, context, climate, socio-economic criteria, to name a few. My engagement with art-making assumes a response to prevailing circumstances, events and contexts. The architect’s self-expression is realised in physical form, literally cast in concrete, for better or for worse. In parallel, most art is a tangible result of the artist’s intent.

You were born in Portugal but have lived in South Africa and Qatar. How has living in various places impacted your art-making?

I have lived in seven countries, and with each relocation I take delight in the new where I can be an observer and have the opportunity of being percipient. Experiencing a new country is a chance to re-evaluate what I know and to embrace the unfamiliar. This has impacted my art-making through learning new materials, techniques and the diverse ways art can be expressed, offering a breakaway from preconceived conventions and allowing me freedom to experiment. New contexts have imparted new stimuli and an interlude from habituation, which are valuable commodities to any artist.

The standard and recurring question in any country I have lived is, ”Where are you from?” This has made me examine my origins, identity and place in the world, giving rise to fertile ground for creativity.

You have participated in nine exhibitions to date. Do you have one you’d like to highlight?

One of the conceptual art pieces I submitted for the Qatar Atelier exhibition provided personal delight, not because of the work itself, but because of the public’s experience of it. The work was an expression of a deeply personal event and a cubicle was realised as installation art. The onlookers were invited to enter the room and experience it behind a closed door where there was writing on the walls, an opaque window and the ceiling was a mirror. The artwork solicited amusement, introspection, self-enquiry, claustrophobia and bewilderment. The value of the installation grew to encompass not only what it personally meant to me, but also what it signified to the individual visitor, virtually operating as a Rorschach test.

Your work I am here / We are here refers to the ongoing pandemic. How do you think art offers solace and comfort during this time?

In tumultuous times, art can offer a distraction from distressing conditions surrounding one or from personal affliction and it can provide a focus for contemplation or meditation. Additionally, art can counteract boredom brought about by lockdown conditions. Art, as a time capsule, can serve to remind one that historic world upheavals are bygones and that the current pandemic too shall pass.