Iván Navarro was born in 1972 in Santiago, Chile, to a family of artists. His experience growing up under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet has inextricably shaped his artistic practice. His early conceptual works reflect the collective psychological trauma of his native country, combining mundane and domestic symbols with the visual language of power. The recurrent use of electricity in his works allude to the torture and human rights violations inflicted upon the Chilean population under Pinochet’s reign. Similar themes are applied in a global context using themes such as capital punishment, migration and propaganda as key points. Best known for his socio-politically charged sculptures of neon, fluorescent and incandescent light, Navarro’s works activate both the sensorial and psychological experience in his viewer.
Navarro moved to New York in 1997, at which point he began to actively engage with the principles of Minimalism in order to trace a connection between modernism and forms of control. At the 2009 Venice Biennale, Navarro represented Chile in its pavilion, showing, among other pieces, the 2006–2009 installation Death Row: 13 aluminium doors that each create the illusion of a gateway thanks to the neon-lights lining each frame, whose colours matched those used in Ellsworth Kelly's series of 13 monochrome canvases each painted a single colour, Spectrum 5 (1969).
Iván Navarro lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, and his work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at prominent institutions and galleries internationally. Recent solo and group exhibitions include Art and Space, Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain (2018); Una Guerra Silenciosa e Imposible, CorpArtes Foundation, Santiago, Chile (2015); Under the Same Sun, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014); 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, New Zealand; Sharjah Art Foundation, 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, New Orleans (2011); Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York (2010); HomeLessHome, Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Israel (2010); Nowhere Man, Towner Contemporary Art Museum, Eastbourne, UK; Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris (2009); Threshold, Chilean Pavilion, Aresnal, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); Don Quijote, Witte de Witt. Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and Artificial Light, MOCA at Goldman Warehouse, Miami (2006).
Navarro’s work is held in the permanent 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), Towner Contemporary Art Museum, (Eastbourne, UK), LVMH Collection (Paris), Saatchi Collection (London), Martin Z. Margulies Warehouse (Miami, FL), and Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea (Santiago de Compostela, Spain).