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Pierre Huyghe: The Artist as Director Ocula Conversation Pierre Huyghe: The Artist as Director

Pierre Huyghe is a producer of spectacular and memorable enigmas, with works that function more like mirages than as objects. Abyssal Plain (2015–ongoing), his contribution to the 2015 Istanbul Biennial, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, was installed on the seabed of the Marmara Sea, some 20 metres below the surface of the water and close to...

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MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern Ocula Report MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern 29 Nov 2019 : Mohammad Salemy for Ocula

In the early decades of its existence, New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), founded in 1929, transformed from a philanthropic project modestly housed in a few rooms of the Heckscher Building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, to an alleged operating node in the United States' cultural struggle during the cold war, and one of the...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Iván Navarro

b. 1972, Chile

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.

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).

Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Fortune V by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroFortune V, 2019 Neons
152 x 152 cm
Constellations by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroConstellations, 2019 Neon, walnut wood box, mirror, one-way mirror, electricity
88.9 x 177.8 cm
Sediments by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroSediments, 2018 Neon, cherry wood box, mirror, one-way mirror and electric energy
129.5 x 191.8 x 29.2 cm
Fortune I by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroFortune I, 2018 Neon, unique in a series of 5
152.5 x 152.5 cm
Bomb by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroBomb, 2016 Neon, LED lights, aluminium, wood, paint, mirror, one-way mirror and electric energy
91.4 x 91.4 x 55.9 cm
Podium by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroPodium, 2018 Neon, plywood, one way mirror, glass and electric energy
77 x 208 x 197 cm
Emergency Ladder by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroEmergency Ladder, 2018 Ruby red neon 25 mA, turned-back electrodes
182.9 x 61 cm
Ultraviolent Stepladder by Iván Navarro contemporary artwork
Iván NavarroUltraviolent Stepladder, 2005 Fluorescent light, colour sleeves, metal fixtures and electric energy
61 x 45.7 x 45.7 cm

Recent Exhibitions

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

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Iván Navarro Ocula Conversation Iván Navarro Artist

Iván Navarro needs no introduction once you know what his works look like: light boxes constructed using one-way mirrors to create an infinity room effect. These object illusions come in many forms, from a world map rendered in green and white lights that seem to collapse into a dark void (Sediments, 2017); to a series of lightboxes formed from the...

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Golden Jubilee: Art Brussels Ocula Report Golden Jubilee: Art Brussels 27 Apr 2018 : Denis Maksimov for Ocula

At the entrance of the fiftieth anniversary edition of Art Brussels (19–22 April 2018), Iván Navarro's Sediments (2017) at Galerie Templon's booth offered an appropriate 'welcome' into the bottomless world of an art fair—a world map rendered in lights that infinitely stretch into a void by way of an illusion created with mirrors. At La...

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In Related Press

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Piers 92 and 94 to Stand Out at the Armory Show Related Press Piers 92 and 94 to Stand Out at the Armory Show The New York Times : 12 January 2017

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...

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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 Wallpaper* : 9 November 2016

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,...

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What Summer slowdown? Seattle Art Fair expands Related Press What Summer slowdown? Seattle Art Fair expands The Art Newspaper : 4 August 2016

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...

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Art Basel 2016: Parcours Related Press Art Basel 2016: Parcours ArtReview : 18 June 2016

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...

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