Robert Nava, Water Heart Cat, 2020 © Robert Nava, courtesy Pace Gallery
Robert Nava, Water Heart Cat, 2020 © Robert Nava, courtesy Pace Gallery

“Imagination and play are two vital places that can generate newness.”
– Robert Nava

Robert Nava © Matteo Mobilio
Robert Nava © Matteo Mobilio

November 30, 2020, New York, NY – Pace Gallery is honored to announce its representation of New York-based artist Robert Nava. Driven by his desire to “make new myths” responsive to our times, 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 pretentions of high art and invites viewers to reconnect with the unbridled imagination of their childhoods. As exemplified by the gallery’s support of artists, such as Jean Dubuffet, Julian Schnabel, Kiki Smith, and Yoshitomo Nara, among others, Pace has been a staunch advocate of artists with a singular visual language that expands the possibilities of art. Nava’s bold and idiosyncratic approach to painting connects to this history while pushing his chosen medium forward.

The artist’s debut with Pace will take place during this year’s iteration of Art Basel Miami Beach, on view from December 1–6, 2020. Nava’s inaugural solo exhibition with Pace will follow shortly afterwards at the gallery’s newly opened seasonal exhibition space in Palm Beach, Florida in January 2021.

Nava will continue to work with Vito Schnabel Gallery (St. Moritz, Switzerland; New York, New York), Night Gallery (Los Angeles, California), and Sorry We’re Closed (Brussels, Belgium). Additional forthcoming exhibitions include a solo show with Vito Schnabel Gallery in February 2021.

Marc Glimcher, President & CEO, Pace Gallery, shares:
“Robert Nava’s work reveals a new contemporary mythology. His chimeric beasts, part children’s fantasy, part expressionistic composition, exploit the intersection of playful and threatening. Refined through obsessive drawing, Nava’s creatures come to life on canvas through his deftly naive applications of spray paint and oil markers. We are so excited that Robert is joining Pace, and we are looking forward to supporting his evolutionary process as an artist at the forefront of his generation.”

Robert Nava, Water Heart Cat, 2020 © Robert Nava, courtesy Pace Gallery
Robert Nava, Water Heart Cat, 2020 © Robert Nava, courtesy Pace Gallery

Robert Nava comments:
“When I met with Marc and Arne we immediately went to Dubuffet. All my favorite painters can’t paint (by academic standards). I think my work follows a lineage or “team” of artists like Dubuffet. I am very excited to expand my career and vision alongside a legacy like Pace’s.”

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 University—an attitude that aligns him with the irreverent “bad” painting first theorized in 1978 by the New Museum’s founding curator Marcia Tucker. Nonetheless, Nava’s 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 today’s 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.

Robert Nava (b. 1985, East Chicago, IN) received a BFA in Fine Art from Indiana University as well as an MFA in Painting from Yale University. His practice centers on large-scale paintings and works on paper that portray whimsical creatures, rendered through gestural markings. Finding inspiration in the art of the distant past, from Medieval Christian imagery to Mayan and Sumerian art, as well as popular contemporary sources such as animation, Nava creates compositions that are carefully considered yet marked by a sense of naivete and spontaneity. His 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.

Pace is a leading contemporary art gallery representing many of the most significant international artists and estates of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Under the leadership of President and CEO Marc Glimcher, Pace is a vital force within the art world and plays a critical role in shaping the history, creation, and engagement with modern and contemporary art. Since its founding by Arne Glimcher in 1960, Pace has developed a distinguished legacy for vibrant and dedicated relationships with renowned artists. As the gallery enters its seventh decade, Pace’s mission continues to be inspired by a drive to support the world’s most influential and innovative artists and to share their visionary work with people around the world.

Pace advances this mission through its dynamic global program, comprising ambitious exhibitions, artist projects, public installations, institutional collaborations, performances and interdisciplinary projects through Pace Live, and curatorial research and writing. Today, Pace has nine locations worldwide: two galleries in New York—including its newly opened headquarters at 540 West 25th Street, and an adjacent 8,000 sq. ft. exhibition space at 510 West 25th Street—as well as galleries in Palo Alto, London, Geneva, Hong Kong, and Seoul. In July 2020 Pace opened a temporary gallery space in East Hampton, New York that will be programmed through October 2021. Additionally, the gallery’s seasonal exhibition space in Palm Beach will be open through spring 2021.

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