HomePage Artists

b. 1972, Chile

Iván Navarro Biography

Iván Navarro is a Chilean artist celebrated for his unique use of light, sound and text to create socio-politically charged sculptures and installation. From his furniture made with fluorescent or neon lights to his optical illusions created by lights bouncing off mirrors, Navarro's work offers enticing sensory experiences, while drawing attention to global concerns.

Read More

Navarro's work is in part informed by his experiences of growing up under Augusto Pinochet's military regime in Chile (1973–1990). Where Are They? (Dónde están?, 2007), for instance, consists of white fluorescent-light letters that spell the names of perpetrators of human rights violations during the dictatorship. Criminal Ladder (2005), a ladder made of white neon tubes, similarly displays the name of a perpetrator on each rung. The use of light in both works is another reference to Chile's dark past, in which the dictatorial government deployed electricity not only as a tool of torture and execution but also as a means to control civilians' lives by severing power supply to reinforce curfew. In You Sit, You Die (2002), Navarro extends his concerns beyond Chile: in his version of the electric chair, built using white fluorescent light bulbs and printed paper, the artist shows the names of individuals who had been executed by such devices in Florida. Drawing on the history of the state use of electricity, Navarro examines its potential as a symbol and tool of power.

Favouring light as his primary medium, especially fluorescent light in the early years of his career, Navarro's works have often been described as quoting Dan Flavin's sculptures. Additionally, he is also noted for his appropriation of the works of other Minimalist artists, into which he introduces explicitly socio-political context. With Homeless Lamps, the Juice Sucker (2004–5), Navarro evokes Flavin in his use of fluorescent tubes to construct a grocery cart, an item also used by homeless people for storage and transportation. In the accompanying video, the artist and his friend navigate the streets in search of public electricity to light his sculpture. In the background, a 1905 Mexican revolutionary song plays while Navarro is constantly on the move, alluding to the division between the wealthy and the poor and the difficulties migrants face as they struggle to anchor themselves in a new environment. Death Row (2006), the centrepiece of his exhibition at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009), is a series of thirteen aluminium doors that derive their bright colours form Ellsworth Kelly's Spectrum (1969). Unlike Kelly, who treats the colours as solid objects, Navarro's colours appear as frames in neon lights that reflect off the aluminium to create an optical illusion of corridors of light leading into the void. In the exhibition, the artist placed another work in front of the doors: Resistance (2009), an interactive installation that invites the spectator to pedal a bicycle to turn on the neon bulbs attached to the vehicle. An accompanying video by the same title features a man riding the same bicycle around Manhattan, a performance that contrasts the amount of energy necessary to illuminate the cart to the excessive presence of neon lights in the city. In Venice, the participant faced a different predicament: the bicycle, regardless of the amount of pedalling, is stationary; and the doors, though enticing in their bright colours, are an illusion.

Navarro has continued to explore the potential of light, text and sound to create sensory illusions and challenge our sense of perception. For the exhibition Heaven or Las Vegas (2012) at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York, he presented light sculptures based on the shapes of skyscrapers such as New York's Flatiron building and World Trade Centre, and the Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai. The view of these skyscrapers Navarro offered, however, was not from the ground but from their topmost floors, rendered as abstract forms. Fitted with neon lights and mirrors, each sculpture creates reflections of light that recede into infinity. Navarro also punctuated the works with words including 'burden', 'shelter', 'decay' and 'desert', whose meanings contradict the grandeur and optimism skyscrapers typically signify. In Mute Parade (2016), another exhibition at Paul Kasmin Gallery, the artist filled road cases–usually used to carry musical instruments–with mirrors and neon lights. Inside each structure of Impenetrable Room (2016), an installation comprising six 6 x 6 foot road cases, undulating neon lights in green trace the propagation of sound waves. Tuning (2015) offers another visualisation of the notion of sound through a pyramid of six drums lit by LED lights that reflect the words HIGH, TONE, TUNE, BASS, MUTE and DECAF into the other sides of mirrors. In the absence of sound, Navarro orchestrates light and text to create a perception of sound. This contemplation of the relationship between vision and audition is further prompted by black and white paper cards scattered on the gallery floor, which carry the words 'Read You' and 'Loud Unclear' on both sides.

Navarro graduated with a BFA from PUC University of Chile, Santiago, in 1995 and has been living and working in New York since 1997. Over the past decades, he has exhibited extensively at Gallery Hyundai, Seoul (2018, 2015); Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York (2016, 2015, 2012); CorpArtes Foundation, Santiago (2015); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015, 2014); and Daniel Templon Gallery, Paris (2013, 2008) among others. His participation in international art events include Art Brussels (2018) and Art Basel (2016), as well as the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009).

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018

Iván Navarro Featured Artworks

View All (10)
Fortune V by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroFortune V, 2019Neons
152 x 152 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Constellations by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroConstellations, 2019Neon, walnut wood box, mirror, one-way mirror, electricity
88.9 x 177.8 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Sediments by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroSediments, 2018Neon, cherry wood box, mirror, one-way mirror and electric energy
129.5 x 191.8 x 29.2 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Bomb by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroBomb, 2016Neon, LED lights, aluminium, wood, paint, mirror, one-way mirror and electric energy
91.4 x 91.4 x 55.9 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Podium by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroPodium, 2018Neon, plywood, one way mirror, glass and electric energy
77 x 208 x 197 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Emergency Ladder by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroEmergency Ladder, 2018Ruby red neon 25 mA, turned-back electrodes
182.9 x 61 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Infinito by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroInfinito, 2018Light bulbs, LED, wood, mirror and electric energy
91.4 x 91.4 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Loop by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroLoop, 2016Neon, LED lights, aluminium, wood, paint, mirror, one-way mirror and electric energy
152.5 x 30.5 cm
Templon Contact Gallery

Iván Navarro Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Iván Navarro, Prostutopia at Templon, Brussels
6 September–20 October 2018 Iván Navarro Prostutopia TemplonBrussels

Iván Navarro Represented By

Templon contemporary art gallery in 30 rue Beaubourg, Paris, France Templon Paris, Brussels

Iván Navarro In Ocula Magazine

Iván Navarro Ocula Conversation Iván Navarro By Stephanie Bailey, Seoul

There are layers, and there are pieces where you don't necessarily see these layers, but they are present because they are things that I have always been interested in.

Fade out copy.
Read More
Golden Jubilee: Art Brussels Ocula Report Golden Jubilee: Art Brussels By Denis Maksimov, Brussels

With 147 participating galleries from 32 countries and some 800 artists represented on the fair floor, over 30 percent of whom were below the age of 40, the fiftieth anniversary edition of Art Brussels was in youthful spirits, despite being the second oldest art fair in the world after Art Cologne.

Fade out copy.
Read More

Iván Navarro In Related Press

View All (7)
Piers 92 and 94 to Stand Out at the Armory Show Related Press Piers 92 and 94 to Stand Out at the Armory Show 12 January 2017, The New York Times

Keen to distinguish the Armory Show, which is facing competition from almost 300 other contemporary art fairs around the world, the New York art fair’s executive director, Benjamin Genocchio, is playing up the gritty industrial space of Piers 92 and 94 on the Hudson River. For the fair’s 2017 edition, which runs from March 2 through March 5, the...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Rhythm of life: Iván Navarro marches to the beat of his own drum Related Press Rhythm of life: Iván Navarro marches to the beat of his own drum 9 November 2016, Wallpaper*

Iván Navarro knows the power of perception all too well. The Chilean-born artist often uses neon lights and mirrors to create optical illusions that make the viewer believe that they are staring into an infinite abyss. Navarro’s current exhibition, Mute Parade – on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York – continues to use text...

Fade out copy.
Read More
What Summer slowdown? Seattle Art Fair expands Related Press What Summer slowdown? Seattle Art Fair expands 4 August 2016, The Art Newspaper

Against the grain of the art market’s traditional summer slowdown, the Seattle Art Fair is growing after a successful launch last year. Forty-six newcomers, including New York’s Pace/MacGill and Marlborough galleries, are among more than 80 exhibitors (up from 62) participating in the second edition this August. Founded by the...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Art Basel 2016: Parcours Related Press Art Basel 2016: Parcours 18 June 2016, ArtReview

Under the bridge the traffic lights stay at red. There would be gridlock were it not for the fact that there is no road to convey the traffic these lights might command. Instead there’s just a leafy footpath that creeps along the bank of the Rhine. And today even that’s pretty light on traffic, with only a few hardy souls trudging...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Iván Navarro are added to Ocula.


Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.