Iván Navarro


Chilean artist Iván Navarro returns to his New York base after five years of profound exploration, worldwide exhibition and pandemic seclusion, to unveil a new, contemplative but passionate body of work for Templon New York’s second exhibition.

Iván Navarro – Celestialand, TEMPLON New York, 2022

“These astral wonders are an integral part of all civilizations. From time immemorial, humans have wanted to domesticate or label what does not belong to them: the stars and planets are the most obvious example.”

Iván Navarro, 2022

In Celestialand, Navarro turns his attention to the cosmic world. He celebrates the unfathomable magnificence of the universe with his dazzling, galactic skyscapes, while quietly observing the perpetual human impulse to conquer and control, in heaven as it is on earth. In this sense, these new works can be seen as the natural evolution of Navarro’s earlier works that revolved around questions of power, using electrical energy as both metaphor and material. In Celestialand, Navarro witnesses the universe, in all its infinite mystery, also as ethereal “land” claimed by earthly nations as they assign their names, as symbolic flag posts, to even the remotest of stars.

The constellation and nebulae series were born during the depths of the pandemic, when Navarro, like the rest the world, was forced into isolation. He began to make all his work alone and by hand, engraving on mirror in painstaking repetitive gestures and then turning to the use of paint as a hitherto unexplored medium in his work.

For the first time, Iván Navarro, whose practice has thoroughly explored the boundaries between design, architecture and sculpture, began to incorporate material experiments involving mystery and chance, by combining pouring techniques with targeted brushwork on the slick surfaces he had previously treated with objective control. These new, highly expressive and sensorial paintings are the direct result of the heightened emotionality and existential inquiry provoked by the pandemic experience.

In Celestialand, Iván Navarro melds the cool of the mirror, the icy LED and neon lights with the warm eruptions of color to replicate the chimerical, abstract formations of celestial phenomena. In the same way, he mixes the industrially made with the handmade, language with matter, to expose the never-ending drive of humankind to dominate each other and nature. Silently inscribing the names of the stars in modern typeface over the cosmic wilderness of the paintings, Navarro contrasts the human territorial approach to the universe with the unmitigated apprehension of the sublime.

Alongside his painted works, Navarro shows a pair of new neon sculptures, composed of the interconnecting names of the earth’s continents and the constellations of the Zodiac. The works reveal the inherent absurdity of the pursuit of control or possession, whether real or symbolic.

The basement room, plunged into almost total darkness, houses a large floor installation. “Flatlands” is another abstract representation of the world. It is an exact mathematical calculation between a simple map and a cube: everything fits perfectly into a three-dimensional grid. This is an image of an ideal technology that could control and reorganize territory (like most representations of territory). The final piece is dedicated to a poignant video by the artist, entitled UFO. It features a mysterious flying object wandering the sky of the Atacama Desert in search of a promised land.

  • Celestialand
  • Celestialand
  • Celestialand

The artist

Born in 1972 in Santiago, Iván Navarro grew up under the Pinochet dictatorship. He has lived and worked in New York since 1997. Iván Navarro uses light as his raw material, turning objects into electric sculptures and transforming the exhibition space by means of visual interplay. His work is certainly playful, but is also haunted by questions of power, control and imprisonment. The act of usurping the minimalist aesthetic is an ever-present undercurrent, becoming the pretext for understated political and social criticism.

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