Iván Navarro at The Armory Show

[From The Gallery Insider Series]

Come To Daddy, 2015, is a mixed media sculpture by Chilean artist Iván Navarro. This piece was on view at the Galerie Daniel Templon booth at The 2016 Armory Show, which took place from March 3 - 6, 2016, at Piers 92 & 94 in New York City. Galerie Daniel Templon has three exhibition spaces: two gallery spaces in Paris (rue Beaubourg and Impasse Beaubourg) and one in Brussels, Belgium. Scroll down for more ...


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This wall sculpture measures 72 inches in diameter, with a 32 inch depth, and is mounted on the wall. It consists of a wooden drum filled with mirrors and neon lighting, with the words "Come to Daddy" spelled out in neon and encircling the inside layer of the drum, as you can see below. Looking into the drum from the front, one is given the illusion that the piece recedes very deeply and that one could travel a great distance through this "tunnel." Yet it only takes a step to the side to see that this is completely an illusion due to the mirrors, and is not very deep at all.

Come to Daddy, by Ivan Navarro

Two views of an Ivan Navarro mirror drum to help give a sense of scale of the wall sculpture

Essential Question #1: Navarro has been quoted saying "There is a certain amount of fear in my pieces." Combine that with the title "Come to Daddy," and what do you think is going on here with this piece? What meaning can you pull from this? (Scroll down to the bottom to find our answers and additional information related to the essential questions throughout this feature)

The piece above was the only one that I saw by Navarro at the 2016 Armory Show, but I've seen his work there in the past as well, so let's look at some of his older works. Here's a piece titled "Clamores en Vano," made in 2013, which was exhibited by Galerie Daniel Templon at the 2014 Armory Show. The title translates to "Cries in Vain," and as you look at the piece, it changes color:

art by Ivan Navarro

Essential Question #2: Since this piece doesn't incorporate words like the first one, can you discern the meaning or gain a sense of fear from what you see here? How dependent upon words are Navarro's pieces for their meaning?

As we look at these pieces, we can see there's an interesting conflict going on in Navarro's work: in some ways they reflect the minimalism of Dan Flavin's light sculptures, and they have a feel of somewhat slick and cool modern design, yet the inherent message and meaning relates to painful political and historical memories and feelings.


Explanations and Answers to the Essential Questions:

Essential Question #1: Navarro has been quoted saying "There is a certain amount of fear in my pieces." Combine that with the title "Come to Daddy," and what do you think is going on here with this piece? What meaning can you pull from this?

The answer to this is somewhat complex; let's start with some background information: Iván Navarro was born in Santiago, Chile, and grew up during the time of the brutal regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose government murdered and tortured thousands during his 17-year rule. Pinochet often used the country's source of electricity as a tool of control, shutting it off at times to keep citizens at home and isolated. Navarro has said that as a child, he lived with a constant fear of being abducted. Later, as an artist, he turned to electricity and light as a hopeful medium, one that he used to help him better understand his country‚Äôs history.

So with this as a background, and a title like "Come to Daddy," one could assume that this piece reflects Navarro's fear of being pulled from his family and being deep in an abyss, with his father calling down into the hole, hoping to rescue him. The illusion of a never-ending space would reflect the hopelessness of being found.

Essential Question #2: Since this piece doesn't incorporate words like the first one, can you discern the meaning or gain a sense of fear from what you see here? How dependent upon words are Navarro's pieces for their meaning?

There's no absolutely "right" or "wrong" answer to this question, but it's an interesting one to ponder. After reading about Navarro's background and childhood in the paragraph above, one could come to this 2nd piece already knowing this background and understand the visual language he is using: a sense of being lost in a great depth, the power of electricity in the hands of a dictator, etc. But I'm not so certain that one can sense the angst or fear without at least reading the title of the piece, "Cries in Vain," which certainly lets the viewer know that something is wrong.

Here's an interesting side note: the original (non-translated) title, "Clamores en Vano," is also the title of one of Francisco Goya's prints from "The Disaster of War," a series of 82 prints created between 1810 and 1820. It's reproduced here as a reference. So it would seem that Navarro's title of his piece is an homage to Goya, in the sense of making a visual protest against the abuse of political power.

Clamores en Vano by Francisco Goya from The Disasters of War

Clamores en Vano by Francisco Goya

It's a little difficult to really immerse ourselves in the work of this artist to the level we'd like to in just one web page, but we hope this was a good introduction to the work of Iván Navarro. We hope to have more to share about his work sometime soon, and will link to it here when we do.