This October, Iván Navarro transforms Paul Kasmin Gallery, 293 Tenth Avenue, into a synesthetic environment with his exhibition Mute Parade. The Chilean-born artist’s second solo show with the gallery continues Navarro’s ongoing use of light, sound, and language to engage with issues of power, migration, and propaganda.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is faced with a series of new works by the artist including TUNING (2015), a pyramid of six towering drums. Navarro combines the drums with mirrors and the words HIGH, TONE, TUNE, BASS, MUTE, and DEAF to create a visual representation idea of sound (or noise) while at the same time removing and negating the original function of the instruments. This is a way of “playing a song" without making any sound. In the center of the adjacent room, there are two freestanding 6-foot diameter drums that incorporate neon, LED lights, mirrors, and electricity. Circular texts written in light repeat the words KICKBACK and KNOCKNOCKNOCK – giving the appearance of an endless loop. Throughout the exhibition, the new works employ silence and stillness to create an uncanny perception of sound and movement and to explore the relationship between seeing and hearing.
In the last room gallery, the viewer enters a labyrinth of four 6 x 6 foot structures that together make up the Impenetrable Room (2016). This new body of work co-opts the materials and format of portable “road cases,” which are customarily used to transport and protect musical instruments. Refitting the cases with mirrors and neon light, Navarro transforms these static objects into deep spaces that appear to recede towards infinity. In this installation, undulating lines of green neon diagrammatically echo the propagation of sound waves through a medium. Silent and monolithic, these self-contained rooms resonate with unspoken narrative power.
Black and white paper squares are scattered across the floors of both galleries. The words “Read You” and “Loud Unclear,” printed on opposite sides of the cards, call attention to the disjunction between the visual and auditory aspects of communication. Informed by the aesthetics and rhythms of military parades, the exhibition contemplates the juxtaposed feelings of celebration and intimidation that martial music is intended to create.
Iván Navarro was born in 1972 in Santiago, Chile, where he grew up during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Navarro’s experiences under the regime continue to fuel his examination of electric energy and sound as symbols and tools of power. He is known internationally for his socio-politically charged sculptures of neon, fluorescent and incandescent light. Navarro represented Chile at the 53rd Venice Biennale. The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Recent solo and group exhibitions include Una Guerra Silenciosa e Imposible, CorpArtes Foundation, Santiago, Chile (2015); Under the Same Sun, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014); South London Gallery, London (2016); Storylines, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015); This Land is Your Land, Madison Square Park, New York; Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, NC; and North Park Center, Dallas, TX (2014 - 2016); 299 792 458 m/s, Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, Korea (2014); Where is the Next War?, Daniel Templon Gallery, Paris (2013); Light Show, Hayward Gallery, London; Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand; Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; and CorpArtes, Santiago, Chile (2013 - 2016); Iván Navarro: Fluorescent Light Sculptures, Frost Museum of Art, Miami (2012); Nacht und Nebel, Fondazione VOLUME!. Rome, Italy (2012); the Prospect.2 Biennial in New Orleans (2011); Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York (2010); HomeLessHome, Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Israel (2010); Nowhere Man, Towner Contemporary Art Museum, Eastbourne, UK, and Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris (2009); Threshold, Chilean Pavilion, Aresnal, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); Don Quijote, Witte de Witt. Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2006); and Artificial Light, MOCA at Goldman Warehouse, Miami (2006).
His work is held in the public and private collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, DC), Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA), Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (Paris), CAB (Burgos), Towner Contemporary Art Museum, (Eastbourne, UK), LVMH Collection (Paris), Saatchi Collection (London), Martin Z. Margulies Warehouse (Miami, FL), Fundación ARCO (Madrid) and Borusan Contemporary Art Collection (Turkey).