Left: “Ghosts,” watercolor on paper, 12 x 24 inches. Right: “Yes, Please,” watercolor on paper, 12 x 24 inches
Behind each one of Alvaro Naddeo’s watercolor paintings is an imagined character who’s built a rickety shopping cart structure or gathered waste materials for a tiny, mobile dwelling. “I believe they are strong people, resilient, and survivalists,” the Brazilian artist tells Colossal. “They use creativity to overcome obstacles and adapt to any situation they are put in. So in a way, both of them, characters and discarded objects, are proof that there’s value in everything if you know where to look for it.”
Evoking an alternative universe in a state of ruin, Naddeo (previously) renders ramshackle structures and vehicles—which only span a few inches—made primarily of outdated technology, rusted carts and frames, and a plethora of branded materials: a Marlboro sign props up an upper level, a Coca-Cola panel offers protection from the elements, and logoed posters and stickers cover almost every surface. By fashioning these relics anew, the artist speaks to consumerism and the waste it generates, a concern that dovetails with a focus on income and wealth inequalities. He explains:
The gap between rich and poor continues to incessantly grow and it seems like nothing can’t stop it. That’s the harsh and important message of my work, but this message comes wrapped in a nice and warm blanket of nostalgia and the beauty of the composition. This warmth makes up for the harshness of the subject matter.