Interview with Alvaro Naddeo for “Intersections” | Exhibition on view February 5 – February 26 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Alvaro Naddeo as part of our new group exhibition, “Intersections”. The exhibition is a solo show for each artist in their own right, and continues to build on their momentum into 2022. Each artist’s work is unified by storytelling, displaying an array of memories and experiences within the walls of the gallery.

Alvaro Naddeo approaches Intersections with the desire to create work that mixes personal memories with the collective memories of our society. In pulling textures from the places Naddeo has personally been and incorporating them into greater social and political commentary, he is able to tell stories that may not have previously been told. He works to give space to the marginalized and the minorities, “those who can see and smell everything good that America has, but are never allowed to get there.”

In our interview with Alvaro Naddeo, we get insight into his philosophy behind creating art and a deeper understanding of the life perspective expressed through his compositions, plus knowing his favorite activity outside the studio.

Can you share with us a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently creating?

I was born in São Paulo and grew up one block away from a shantytown in a middle-class family. Brazilian shanty towns are a lot poorer than United States standards for the poor. The average “house” has no sewage, no water, and has stolen electricity. Around my teenage years, we moved to an upper-middle-class neighborhood very close to obscenely wealthy people. It was a shock and a very vivid example of wealth inequality. That had an impact on me for sure. 

Later moved to Lima, New York, Tampa, and currently living in the Los Angeles area, Lawndale, to be more precise.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes have you been exploring in your work?

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 are never allowed to get there.

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working in your studio? 

I’ve recently moved, and my studio is at home. The new place has great light, and with the working from home scenario (I have a job in advertising), I was able to enjoy the flexibility and paint more during day time, which I prefer. I paint during daylight and work on compositions on the computer at nighttime. During the day, I go back and forth, bouncing between painting and working on my job. An on and off approach works fine, considering sometimes I need time to let the paint dry (around 30 to 60 minutes breaks.)

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands that you use? 

Before going into brand names, let me give unsolicited advice to future watercolor artists: Paper is the one item where quality and price make a considerable difference. Invest good money on it. Painting is the second in that regard. Professional-grade paint is a little better than student-grade paint, but the student-grade is fine too. And finally, brushes. No need to spend money on that. Cheap brushes are as good as any. I prefer Fabriano and Arches paper (I haven’t tried other “good ones” yet), and I like Winsor and Newton paint. I use Dynasty brush black gold.

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio? 

I enjoy spending time with my son and daughter; they are teenagers, and being with dad is not their first choice of “fun,” but we get to spend some quality time pretty often. Eating and watching movies is what we do the most. I also enjoy going to the gym almost every day; being physically active after a day spent almost entirely sitting is needed.

Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration? 

I just jolt some scribble on any piece of paper or post-its with the intent of keeping a record of an idea. Is super rough and sometimes is just words, not even a sketch.

What was on your playlist while creating this new body of work?

This year I listened to a lot of Bauhaus, New Order, Joy Division, Judas Priest, and Dio.

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

No, I don’t think so. Sorry for the lack of modesty, but I’ve always been creative and active in that regard my whole life. I just expressed it differently at different stages in my life.

Have you ever worked outside creating public murals? If not, would you be interested in pursuing one day? 

No, I’ve never created murals, and yes, I would be interested in doing it someday.

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to create art? Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently? 

If I ever achieved anything, it was only because I wasn’t looking for it. I always painted for the instant reward of just being creative. I never had a goal; I wasn’t painting to achieve something specific. I never inflicted on me the responsibility or burden of being liked or selling my art. I love receiving positive feedback, it fuels my creativity, but I was lucky that that was not the reason. If I get isolated from society for any reason, I would still do what I do to entertain myself. I wouldn’t give my past self any advice because I believe my past self was painting for the right reasons, and I wouldn’t like to interfere with that. I wouldn’t try to be more famous, have more followers, or sell more. 

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2021 for you?

My job in advertising was demanding some periods this year. It looks like in some industries the working from home also became working anytime and any amount of hours.

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

That would be any time one of my kids expressed that they liked me and agreed that I am doing my best to be their father.

What big projects do you have coming up in 2023 that you’d like to share more about?

I don’t know yet. But I believe it would be at Thinkspace!

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