EAST HAMPTON, NY.- Pace
is presenting an exhibition of works on paper by Robert Nava at its East Hampton space. The works on view in the exhibition, all of which were created in 2021, depict Navas quintessentially outlandish creatures. Marking the artists second show with Pace since he joined the gallery last year, this presentation runs from August 12 to 29.
Navas fascination with drawing, which is now a pillar of his artistic practice, stems from the cartoon and cereal box characters he sketched as a child. Constantly drawing in his sketchbook, the artist is deeply engaged with the quickness and intuitive aspects of making works on paper. Nava uses his drawings to experiment and formulate ideas that often inform his paintings. In an interview with the writer, curator, and artist Paul Laster published in Art & Object earlier this year, Nava said: Drawing is a huge part of my work. Im really interested in what line can do. There are so many ways to work it. Sometimes when Im drawing and dont know what I want to do, Ill just start scribbling or making marks and something will come of it. I remember watching my grandmother doodling while speaking on the phone, which may have motivated me to draw.
Imaginative and eccentric, Navas works, which explore notions of reality and fantasy, often feature hybrid beings rendered in vibrant colors. Taking inspiration from prehistoric cave paintings, ancient Egyptian art, Art Brut, contemporary cartoons, and other varied sources, the artist imbues his drawings with movement and energy. Navas unconventional, frenetic style and distinct visual lexicon, through which he forges fantastical new worlds on paper, are on full view in Paces East Hampton exhibition.
Driven by his desire to make new myths responsive to our times, Robert Nava has created a chimerical world of metamorphic creatures, drawing inspiration from sources as disparate as prehistoric cave paintings, Egyptian art, and cartoons.
Rendered through a raw, energetic mixing of spray paint, acrylics, and grease pencil, his large-scale paintings of fantastical beasts exude a playful candidness that defies the pretensions of high art and invites viewers to reconnect with the unbridled imagination of their childhoods.
To develop his uncompromisingly personal style, Nava first dispensed with the rules and conventional attitudes that he had learned while obtaining his MFA at Yale Universityan attitude that aligns him with the irreverent bad painting first theorized in 1978 by the New Museums founding curator Marcia Tucker. Nonetheless, Navas hybrid monsters, which range from the dragon-like to the angelic, are thought-out composites that the artist continuously reworks in his sketchbooks. Drawing, in fact, constitutes the bedrock of his practice, a daily discipline of invention.
Often created to the vitalizing beat of techno music, his paintings conjure a realm awash in magic and possibility, where beings are always seemingly on the verge of transmogrification. Though offering viewers respite from the more cynical and dystopian aspects of todays world, his paintings do not, however, veer into escapism. Violence and destruction are continuously implied by the ferocity of his depicted animals and the iconoclastic nature of his graffiti-like markings, which build on the gesturalism of Cy Twombly and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His work thus reacquaints viewers with an almost childlike capacity for fantasy and creativity, while offering a meditation on the loss of innocence and its recuperation.
Nava's work can be found in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, the ICA Miami, and Zuzeum Art Centre, Latvia. His art has been exhibited in various solo exhibitions both domestically and abroad, including Mythologies (2019) at V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Vs (2019), Night Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. His work has also been featured in several group exhibitions, most recently, Majeure Force (2020) at Night Gallery and Punch (2019) at Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles, CA.