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’