Interview with Nicola Caredda for ‘God Save My Sweet Pusher’

Thinkspace is proud to present the debut North American solo exhibition, ‘God Save My Sweet Pusher’, from Italian artist Nicola Caredda.

Caredda’s dreamlike acrylic works on canvas blend eroded landscapes and structures with playful elements of pop culture and mystical iconography. The paintings capturing a vague narrative ripped from the artist’s subconscious.

In anticipation of ‘God Save My Sweet Pusher’, our interview with Caredda discusses the philosophical impact of the current pandemic, a conflicted creative process, and pop-culture events that have shaped him.

Caredda’s native language is Italian and he graciously provided us with a Google translation of his interview. We have gone ahead and edited the interview to read more naturally while trying to maintain the spirit of Nicola’s answers.  

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

I believe that the current period we are experiencing has greatly influenced my latest production.

We have found ourselves, with a very short time, catapulted into a world-wide nightmare worthy of the worst catastrophic B-movies. Unprepared and forced to change our ways of living and how we relate with others. Not only are we changing how we interact with friends, relatives, acquaintances the shift extends  towards those usually one meets only by going shopping. We are distant from each other with a growing fear and distrust of human beings.

Here in Italy, the lock down was very intense. A complete lifestyle change, with the implied demand that our normal behavior would quickly need to adapt to this new situation. I acknowledge the trivial nature of it, but everything one would normally have on hand, the things you take for granted, suddenly became less accessible. From engaging in social relationships to the less important things, but each adaptation marked an important shift in the norm, even meeting a pusher to buy a few grams of hashish was significantly different.

During this time, we’ve had to withdrawal from experiences we never thought we would miss so much. “God Save My Sweet Pusher” is a prayer to protect our drug dealer. A metaphor for all those things that we can’t live without and have missed during this pandemic. Missed like a junkie without his fix. Jonesing to leave the house. Jonesing to hug your friend, your family. Jonesing to attend a music concert. Jonesing to attend an art exhibition. Jonesing just to see the hidden smile of the person talking to you and countless other things that make our human existence and life more complete.

I therefore represented this prayer by creating sacred spaces where we can stay safe, in hiding, and experience all these “drugs of life” in landscapes that are explored within ourselves rather than outside.

So may whatever God he is, protect all or all those who can provide us with these “substances.”

When working, what are you listening to in the background?

Musically I really listen to everything. I have no prejudices, from rap to classical. I listen to audiobooks and I like to listen to films without watching them, maybe glancing over every now and then.

What is your most and least favorite part of the creative process?

My most and least favorite parts seem to be interchangeable. I’m excited for when I start painting, but then while I’m in the process of painting I begin to feel bad because I judge the work and think that I’m not doing well, slightly afraid it won’t be good in the end and turn out how I desire. However, I keep pushing because as I’m finishing it I think about how much fun and less stressful it is to start one. Yet, when I start a painting I think about how much fun and less stressful it is to finish one. I guess I would find myself happiest in the time before I start a painting. However, this internal struggle is what I must like most, even if subconsciously.  

What piece challenged you most in this body of work and why?

I can’t think of a single work, mainly the challenge was to think of the whole show as if the whole thing were a single work, a single narrative.

Aside from technical factor and execution times, I would say “red overdose” was significant. The piece is intended as the happy ending of the show, a representation of all those drugs that we have missed and overdose on after ingestion. I was very undecided to go in the direction of a happy ending or not, this time it went well.

If you could have any ability, what would it be?

Definitely being able to talk to animals.

When viewing other artists’ work, what elements get you excited or inspire you?

At a pictorial level, the technique is the first factor to strike me. Not in an academic sense, but more than anything else I observe the freshness of the composition. When I find it in the works of other painters it like a punch in the gut, I can’t ignore the communicative impact and poetic nature of the work, be it painting, sculpture or other.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s an unprecedented time, and it’s a weird time – What is your approach to life during this time?

I take deep breaths, smoke and try to be positive, even if everything around us does not give us much hope. It feels like we’re in a movie, and it’s nice to think that we are in a film where all of humanity would improve and join together in community following such a situation, but the reality is much colder. Man is perhaps the worst animal because he has a conscience, a brain that he often uses in the worst way.

What pop-culture item; music, movies, tv, events etc.. that has shaped you creatively?

I will sketch a thin list, which otherwise would be mileage

Music: Tonino Carotone, Marilin Manson, rap in general, Fabrizio De Andrè, and the opera “L’elisir d’amore” by Gaetano Donizzetti.

Movies: Alejandro Jodorowski, Lars von Trier, Baz Luhrmann, Alex de la Iglesia, Paolo Sorrentino, Luciano Salce and Luccio Fulci.

TV: The Simpsons, Dawson Creek, the advertising of the Miracle Blade knives with Chef Tony and the television religious services

Events: Maradona’s goal at the 1986 World Cup, the fall of the Communist governments in Europe, the death of Lady Diana and the G8 in Genoa.

If your work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor, what would be the ingredients and the name of the pint?

“Purple Myrtle with Crystals”

  • Sardinian myrtle cream
  • Pan’e saba
  • Chopped fresh almonds

Nicola Carreda’s interview in Italian is available after the jump.

Continue reading Interview with Nicola Caredda for ‘God Save My Sweet Pusher’

New Exhibitions from Alvaro Naddeo, Josh Keyes, Nicola Caredda, and Kobusher Coming Soon

Thinkspace Projects presents:

Inside Out


Come Out and Play

God Save My Sweet Pusher

All four exhibitions on view September 19 through October 10, 2020


Inside Out

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Portland-based artist Josh Keyes in Inside Out. Keyes creates lush, hyperrealistic paintings of our civilization’s dystopian aftermath; a post-human planet left ecologically ravaged and dissipated, sits aflame, overgrown or beneath water, while a new natural order attempts to reclaim its disastrous inheritance. In recent years, Keyes has abandoned the minimalism of his precise, dioramic disaster taxonomies in favor of a more immersive and expanded pictorial frame. These works depict entire environments rather than only its cross-sections in a not-so-distant future state of ecological ruin. Keyes has mastered the satirical posturing of hyperbole as fact with a world so convincingly rendered, and so disastrously surreal, that fantasy becomes alarmingly plausible.

Keyes’ highly detailed narrative paintings have evolved from their earlier iteration as closed systems, or quasi-scientific specimens drawn from some post-apocalyptic natural history museum to less confined and formulaic expressions of an imploding natural order. Displaced wild animals and the remnants of human architectures and monuments are all that remain, the only living witnesses to whatever final or cumulative set of events have finally tipped the scales beyond salvage.

Animals have always appeared as the focal points of Keyes’ metaphoric, and psychologically penetrating works. He depicts them with the anatomical precision of a biologist and the poetic freedom of a storyteller. As protagonists, creatures universalize the narratives, making them indiscriminately relatable and empathically accessible. Charged with the psychic and imagistic resonance of a shared, collective subconscious, Animalia provides the artist with a symbolically valent source of iconography. This combination of the personally inflected and the culturally drawn supplies the artist with an inexhaustible source material.

Working primarily in acrylic on panel, Keyes has perfected his hyperrealistic painting technique, depicting the environmental crisis with startling representational clarity as a trope for the larger human one. It becomes clear that the imagining of this apocalyptic chaos harbors a social anxiety that extends far beyond the concerns of the ecological. In a time of great political angst and uncertainty, the artist’s works are all the more poignant as harbingers of a, now more than ever, alarmingly plausible doomsday. Keyes, the dystopian naturalist, continues to provoke our imaginations with the poetry of a cataclysmically surreal future tense.



Thinkspace is pleased to present IndigNation, featuring new works by Brazilian born and Los Angeles-based artist Alvaro Naddeo. Interested in the study of castaway objects and the subtle graphic nuances of urban detritus gleaned from the city sphere, the artist combines its 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. Working primarily in watercolor on paper, Naddeo achieves an impressive level of hyperrealistic rendering, bestowing unexpected poetry to the lowly remnants of the city’s waste and urban recesses. Naddeo’s works offer a commentary on the excessive momentums of contemporary consumerism, while his imagery explores the decay and deterioration of the city-worn.

Naddeo is originally from São Paulo, Brazil and has also lived in Lima, Peru and New York City and currently. These urban environments have helped to shape the artist’s memory and permeate most of his work. The artist is partly self-taught and partly homeschooled. His father is an illustrator, and as a child Alvaro would spend many hours drawing and watching him work. His father was a constant source of inspiration and encouragement, but having an artist as your father also proved frustrating at times. At 17, Alvaro compared his work to his and thought that his own drawings and paintings were not good enough. so he quit. Naddeo went on to pursue a career in advertising as an Art Director, something that still allowed him to exercise his interest in art, but without requiring mastery with the pencil or brush. 20 years later, while living in New York City and being exposed to its many contrasts, Naddeo’s desire to pick up the brushes intensified. He is now a full-time artist, exhibiting his works around the world.

“The subject matter of my work is waste, overconsumption and social inequality. Trash and objects found in the street are valuable, and not only for aesthetic reasons. The brands, logos and packaging depicted in my work are objects with an inherent duality, both desirable and despicable, a clear byproduct of having worked in advertising for more than 20 years.”
– Alvaro Naddeo


Come Out and Play

Thinkspace is pleased to present the debut North American solo exhibition from pop artist Kobusher, hailing from the Philippines. Being a child of the 80’s, the artist was raised on pop culture and, in turn, his visual narrative has been honed with the help of Sesame Street, Keith Haring, Lee Quiñones, Run Dmc, and MTV.

Kobusher attended the University of the Philippines where he received his Fine Arts degree (majoring in painting). Sadly, like many a young art school graduate, he went into advertising and marketing to make ends meet, while never loosing site of his first love, painting.

In 2015 he literally walked out from his work and decided it was time to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time artist. He felt that he had done everything he could as an artist during his stint as a Creative Director at one of Philippines’ top ad agencies. One by one he was able to produce a series of paintings for his debut solo show. Secret Fresh Gallery in the Philippines gave him his first break, and in January of 2016 they hosted his first solo exhibition.

Since then, Kobusher has been busy building an ever-growing legion of fans the world over. From sculptural editions to screen prints, the artist continues to explore new avenues of expression on a regular basis. For his North American debut, the artist has delved heavily into the memories of his youth and the new body of work is a celebration of pop culture in all its many forms.


God Save My Sweet Pusher

Thinkspace is pleased to present the debut North American solo exhibition from Italian artist Nicola Caredda. The artist was born in Cagliar, Italy in 1981. Caredda studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sassari.

Caredda’s dreamlike acrylic works on canvas blend eroded landscapes and structures with playful elements of pop culture and mystical iconography. Each painting’s vague narrative is ripped from the artist’s subconscious. The artist’s aim is to transcend reality using his own dreamy, visionary language.

By creating densely layered paintings that blend elements from distant vocabularies with the metaphysical, the artist aims to exorcise his own fears and provide an escape from reality for all