The ruins of the Anthropocene in the art of Nicola Caredda

By Ivan Quaroni

Despite its American origins, Pop Surrealism transformed in the early years of the new millennium into an international movement that spread its seeds to every corner of the globe. Two were the catalytic elements that initially fostered its planetary spread: the Internet and the emergence of magazines such as Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose, which played an "evangelizing" function in the propagation of this new "figurative verb," characterized by the use of imagery that is both popular and fantastic. Hence the definition of Pop Surrealism, which emphasizes the dual debt to Pop art, broadly understood as a patchwork of expressions inspired by the mass media iconography of consumer society, and to Surrealism, a term that in this case refers not only to the historical current founded by André Breton but to all forms of fantastic art. Pop Surrealism expanded far beyond the confines of the American counterculture, and as numerous artists from the most varied artistic backgrounds were gradually included in its ranks, the movement spread to Italy, influencing several artists, including Nicola Caredda.

Born in Cagliari, Italy, in 1981 and trained at the Sassari Academy of Fine Arts, Nicola Caredda is first and foremost a visionary painter in whose style fantastical influences and dystopian suggestions blend. In the transition from painting to NFTs - exhibited on the SuperRare marketplace - the artist has managed to transfer the suspended and rarefied atmosphere of his paintings, dominated by the rubble and debris of the post-modern age, into a series of distorted and hallucinated animations, which give body and soundness to his creations. 

His landscapes, made with the precision of a miniaturist, show the remnants of a society that has passed away, the relics of a vanished world, perhaps because of its own madness. After a hypothetical but also plausible nuclear catastrophe or following an ecological apocalypse, what remains is an uninhabited and silent globe, a kind of great still life of planetary proportions, dotted with industrial ruins, architectural skeletons, and sad remnants of consumer society. 

Influenced as much by the metaphysical painting of Giorgio De Chirico and the artists of Italian and German Magic Realism between the wars as by contemporary American Pop Surrealism, the artist has constructed a visual language that transfers a decadent taste for ruins and a passion for mystery into the iconographic vocabulary of Liquid Modernity as recounted by Zygmunt Bauman. 

His nocturnal visions, littered with shattered fairground corners, remnants of prefabricated buildings, or abandoned electrical appliances submerged by proliferating vegetation, seem the perfect representation of the end of the Anthropocene, the current geological epoch dominated by human activities that biologist Eugene Stoermer predicts would be the leading cause of environmental, structural and climatic changes in our ecosystem.

Everyone at Rolling Loud
Everyone at Rolling Loud

Another way of interpreting Caredda's works, however, is to consider them as depicting the state of decay of modern urban suburbs, which in their atmosphere of melancholic abandonment, prefigure the future morphology of a post-apocalyptic world. Such is the case with Everyone at Rolling Loud, a work made for the Poseidon DAO Deploy Collection, in which the artist depicts what remains at the end of a collective ritual such as Rolling Loud - the most important Rap and Trap music festival - when, once the music's over, echoes and sound vibrations still reverberate in the saturated atmosphere of a desolate and dilapidated place that has become strangely intimate and familiar.

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