Interview with Alvaro Naddeo for “AmeriCan’t”

Thinkspace is proud to present our third exhibition AmeriCan’t with Brazillian born and Los Angeles-based artist Alvaro Naddeo in the project room. Naddeo’s watercolors combine textures and edges in compositional amalgams. His interest in the life of the unassuming object extends to billboards and signage, cast away containers and boxes, and domestic and industrial spaces, conjoined and superimposed in unexpected mashups, or cultural relics that speak of use and disposal in the contemporary city.  In anticipation of AmeriCan’t, our interview with Alvaro Naddeo discusses the shows inspiration, his creative process, and what it feels like leading up to the opening reception.

Join us for the opening of “AmeriCan’t”, Saturday, June 30th from 6 to 9 pm.

SH: Tell us about this show. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

AN: The inspiration for this show comes from my desire to create something where I’m able to mix memories with textures of the places I’ve been while at the same time making a social and political commentary on our society. AmeriCan’t is about the marginalized, the minorities, those who can see and smell everything good that America has but never allowed to get there.

SH: Where do you source inspiration? How do you capture those ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?

AN: Ideas appear at random times, and usually is just a piece of an idea, only one of the elements that I want to use not the whole painting. I don’t have a sketchbook, so I usually make some really rough sketches on post-it notes. Later, when I’m ready to start a new painting, I go through the small rough notes and combine a few of them.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

AN: My compositions are the result of many back and forths between some rudimentary 3D shapes, Photoshop, Illustrator and rough sketches. I may start with a pencil sketch, scan it, get a shape on 3D, draw over it, then move it to Photoshop and Illustrator where I make sure the perspectives and proportion of the elements are as good as I can have them, by this point I’m able to move to the paper and start painting. Only at that stage is when I create textures and also when I add light and shadows.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?

AN: The part that I enjoy the most is painting, pushing the watercolor on paper. It is a mix of a lot of freedom, letting it randomly and organically move and settle, while at the same time trying to control it and make it exactly what I would like it to do.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?

AN: Usually, nothing, sometimes the fact that watercolor doesn’t allow to fix most mistakes.

SH: If you could be a character in any movie for a day; who would you be in what film and why?

AN: I would like to be Ferris Bueller and take a day off.

SH: How do you approach developing work for an exhibition? Do you immediately jump into work on it, or are you more of a procrastinator?

AN: My production is more or less constant, independent if I have shows scheduled or not. Obviously having a deadline for a show scares me with the idea of not having enough to show, so I push my productivity a little more. I may be a little slower if I don’t have a deadline but I’m never not doing or thinking of a painting, I’m constantly producing something.

SH: What is your Meyers-Briggs or Zodiac Sign? Does it influence your work / artistic process?

AN: My Myers-Briggs, if I remember correctly was: Introvert, Thinking, but the other two letters were not well defined I was pretty much in the middle between them. I’m a Gemini and neither of those things has any influence over my work.

SH: Can you explain what it feels likes to anticipate the opening of your exhibition, the opening night?

AN: It’s really exciting, it’s an amazing feeling to have all your work hanging on those walls and having people looking and talking to you about them. The production part is very lonely, so the show is a rare opportunity to get feedback. Also when I’m done with a painting I just store it, so when a show is up is also a chance for me to look again at work that I’ve done a few months before and that I may have forgotten about them a bit. It is a good opportunity to have a fresh look at them, almost like looking at something I didn’t paint myself.

SH: Has there been an artistic catalyst in your life? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on you that has lead you to where you are now.

AN: Yes, quitting a job in an advertising agency in 2009 was an accidental catalyst. I quit the job at that agency, even before getting a new one because I believed I wasn’t being paid fairly. While I looked for a new job in another advertising agency, I focused on not being too lazy, so I created a few tasks to keep myself creatively busy, for example, I started drawing anything every day. Soon I got a new job but I kept drawing, Those unpretentious drawings slowly progressed and became my watercolor paintings a couple of years later.

Interview with Alvaro Naddeo for “Not Forgotten”

Thinkspace is proud to present Not Forgotten from Alvaro Naddeo in the Project Room opening September 30th. This is Naddeo’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, only months after exhibiting a few works in the Thinkspace Gallery office. A rotating area of the gallery featuring works from new artists to the Thinkspace fold, or returning pieces from group exhibitions across the globe. Naddeo is a self-taught painter whose works explore various urban environments and the objects found in them that have shaped his memory and imagination. Autobiographical in nature, the compositions contain symbolic references to his own nomadic past and his transition through the landscapes of several different cities and countries. We interviewed Alvaro Naddeo for “Discarded” back in March where we deep dived into his creative process, today we explore more of the artist.

SH: You recently showed in our office space in March, and now a solo in the project room, what can we expect from this new body of work?
AN: This new body of work is, in my opinion, an extension and an evolution of what Thinkspace showed at the office space earlier this year. The theme, tone, voice, and medium are the same, but the ideas got pushed further and the exploration was broader. I like this new series a lot more than the previous one (which I like too!). I believe the composition of these paintings is cleaner and the concepts are clearer. I’m very happy with this body of work.

SH: What do you think is the role of the artist in society?
AN: I believe the role of the artist in society is to provoke, question, raise concerns and share thoughts about the society we live in. Most artists are very good at making observations on what’s going on in the world, pass those observations through a personal filter, and then put them back out there by sharing them with society. All of that while celebrating aesthetics.

SH: How do you approach each piece in a new way that challenges you as an artist, and motivates you to push your artistic voice?
AN: Each piece is more challenging than the previous ones because I’m looking for new ways to express a similar thought. I always want the recent pieces to look better and fresher than the previous ones, so that’s another challenge.

My motivation comes from the desire to express myself. I’m a shy person but I do have an opinion and I like to share it with others and since I don’t do it much verbally, I feel motivated to do it through painting. I’m also motivated by the connection that is formed with people who like what I paint. I feel that the group of people that my paintings connect with are really interesting. It seems that they are a very small fraction of the general public, but they are very engaged and intense.

SH: What plays in the background while you’re working on a composition?
AN: I listen to a lot of podcasts from Brazil and the US. Sometimes a little music plays, but mostly podcasts.

SH: Who would you want to collaborate with, dead or alive? The person can be in any area of the arts; film, dance, music etc.
AN: I would love to collaborate with Pixar. I hope John Lasseter has a google alert for every time his name appears somewhere and he receives this interview and checks out my art!

SH: How have you grown as an artist in the last 5 years and how do you hope to grow in the following 5?
AN: The improvement I’ve experienced in the last 5 years as an artist is huge, not necessarily because of where I am now, but mostly because of where I was then. I don’t show almost anyone what I was doing 5 years ago. It was clearly necessary to go through that and to paint those pieces to get where I am now. That’s normal. That’s the journey of most self-taught artists. It takes a while to figure out many things. There is so much to learn in terms of technique, composition, color use, scale, etc. In the next 5 years, I wish to grow, even more, improving my technique, learning to draw better, and also to be able to paint more hours than I do now.

SH: If you had a dinner party, who would be the guest of honor? What would be the menu? And what is the one question you’d ask all your guests?
AN: I would have three guests of honor: Kurt Vonnegut, Julio Cortázar, and Stanley Kubrick. Dinner would be whatever they like and sushi for me. The question would be: How would you like to improve as a person?

SH: Answer the question you would ask all your guests.
AN: I want to be able to always and constantly desire less of everything and to continue being grateful for everything good that happens to me.

Join us for the opening reception of Not Forgotten on September 30th from 6 to 9pm.

Interview with Alvaro Naddeo for “Discarded”

Alvaro Naddeo

We’re excited to be showing the work of artist Alvaro Naddeo this month in the Thinkspace Gallery office. The subject matter of his work is inspired by waste, overconsumption and social inequality. Our interview with Alvaro Naddeo covers his creative process and we’re excited to learn more about our latest member of the Thinkspace family. Owner and curator Andrew Hosner was blown away by his work, and we hope you are all equally excited by his detailed composition.

The opening of Alvaro Naddeo’s “Discarded” is Saturday, March 4th from 6- 9 pm.

SH: What is the inspiration behind your latest body of work?
AN: The inspiration behind my latest body of work could be separated into two parts, one esthetical and one political.

On the aesthetic level, I’m inspired by everyday marginalized, urban, quotidian objects, and inspired by trying to find an angle or a composition where those uninteresting objects obtain a new and compelling beauty. I’m also fascinated by the natural decay of those elements, observing how everything loses its original color, shape, and texture, how sunlight, heat, rain, humidity wind and time add an organic and particular texture to them.

On a political level, I’m inspired by the opportunity to share my point of view of the world and to connect with people who think alike. It’s very interesting to me to use art as an instrument for criticizing the things I see and disagree, like overconsumption, social inequality, programmed obsolescence and the
consequence they have over the exploited third world countries, nature and planet as a whole. I’m compelled to criticize the insatiable greed at the expense of people who didn’t have the same opportunities as the lucky ones. I try to use the little attention that I can get with my work to try and provoke a conversation about those uncomfortable issues that we usually try to avoid.

SH: What made you leave advertising? Or do you still work in advertising and your art is a form of rebellion?
AN: I still work in advertising, I have been for the last 20 years. I have two young kids and can’t afford to quit at least until they grow up some more. I also don’t want to burden my art with the responsibility of providing for my family. I would rather have my art independent and free, without the need or worry of selling at all costs. I’m afraid that if I have to sell a lot and fast, I may involuntarily or unconsciously shift my themes towards what sells more, instead of keeping as it is, which is just what I really want to say and paint. I believe not all brands
are evil, not all of them are trying to sell us things we don’t need. Some of them are indeed providing good and useful products at a fair price and entertaining advertising. There is a middle ground between over consumption and total absence of it.

SH: How have the various environments you’ve lived influenced your work?
AN: The various environments I’ve lived have a huge influence on my work, I consider it to be very auto-biographical. My daily observations influence my work in a very unconscious manner and as I moved from city to city I noticed that my visual vocabulary grew and incorporated new elements from those places. It’s interesting to combine what is universal with the very local. I have a lot of pleasure mixing the particulars, for example, you could find on my paintings a container that I saw on top of a truck on the Interstate 405 and inside of it, find a Duane Reade’s bag from NY, next to a sign that says “proibido estacionar” from São Paulo.

 

SH: How long have you’ve been developing this particular composition/narrative? What are your favorite brushes and paints?
AN: I’ve been developing this particular composition narrative since 2010, when I started to draw and paint just for fun, very unpretentiously, painting just what I wanted, what pleased me to see on the paper, never worrying about an audience. After a couple of years, I was able to look back and rationalize in words the meaning behind what I was doing and communicating. I experimented a lot with different brushes sizes and shapes, and now I have found what works best for me. My favorite brushes are pretty simple, they are a generic brand from an art supply store, I paint 80% of the time with two script brushes sizes 5/0 and 1. My paints are from Winsor and Newton, I started with a small 14 pan set, then added the 45 pan set and now I’m buying Winsor and Newton tubes when refilling for the colors I use the most.

SH: What is your creative process? Walk us through a day in the studio?
AN: My studio is at home, in my garage to be more specific. My day at the studio begins after my work day is over and after I’ve spent some time with my kids, so usually it is at night on weekdays for about one or two hours. I average about three or four hours on each day of the weekend.

Before each session, there are three imprescriptible things that I make sure to have at the studio: coffee, podcast and a chronometer. My creative process begins drawing very loose ideas, rough sketches on the closest available piece of paper, I don’t have a sketchbook and I usually collect future ideas while painting something else, I don’t work on the new ideas immediately, I only go back to them a couple days or weeks later, (I do believe in letting ideas mature) then I start studying slightly different possibilities or compositions on tracing paper.

After having the composition more or less figured out, I use Photoshop or Illustrator to get a clean block of the overall shape, with more accurate perspective and correct proportions/scale among the objects, then transfer this base drawing to my watercolor paper. When painting the objects in my composition I either draw it from memory or have it in front of me as a model or work with a picture that I took. It depends on the object and how close I want it to be to reality.

SH: What do you enjoy doing when not painting?
AN: When not painting, my favorite thing are spending time with my family, consuming art, watching movies, reading and I am ashamed to confess, playing video games for a lot more hours than I should.

SH: What excites you about another artist’s work?
AN: The thing that excites me the most about other artist’s work whose art I like is learning more about their creative process, trajectory, and background. When beside the finished piece you also have access to all the circumstances that surround that creation, having the tools to understand what lead the artist to do that, it amplifies my enjoyment so much and I connect a lot more.

I’m attracted to works that have a narrative, pieces that tell stories and that reward you more when you spend more time with them. Very good examples of that are Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell’s work. I’m also attracted to artists who use brands, logos, icons and typography on their art, like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg and Ed Ruscha. I enjoy the contrast and color combination from Robert Indiana and Stuart Davis, the organic nature of Egon Schiele’s watercolor and I also need to mention Paul Cadmus, Charles Sheeler, Charles Demuth and Lee Bontecou. And finally from my design and advertising background I love Milton Glaser, Saul Bass and Paul Rand.

SH: If and when you experience creative blocks or self-doubt, what do you do to re -inspire you?
It may sound unusual, but I haven’t really experienced creative blocks. Probably because I paint for so little hours a day, and because I have all the time of my non-painting hours to have ideas so it doesn’t feel like I’m having a creative block. I’m sure that if I was painting at least 40 hours a week I would experience that.