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Contemporary painting has become a matter of freshness, continuous change and renewal of past tendencies. A stage where artists are required to let go off their chains and free their creative potential in order to create pure and courageous images. In this setting, Robert Nava stands as a unique example of the definition of painterly freedom and of what it means to be emancipated by the grotesque compliance that is present within the contemporary art world.

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Born in East Chicago in 1985, Robert Nava currently lives and works in Brooklyn (NY), one of the most stimulating settings an artist could find himself in these days. His research is highly personal and distinctive and focuses on the creation of images that portray supernatural beings and narrations that unveal the innermost aspects of the human subconscious. In his practice, Nava expresses total artistic freedom, combining both ancient and modern influences, spacing from Sumerian carvings to Abstract Expressionism and Bad Painting; giving birth to his own mythology, made of childish dreams and ancient symbolism.

 

Robert Nava, Untitled, 2020. Acrylic and marker on canvas.

 

On the canvas surface, supernatural creatures such as witches, dragons, werewolves and ghouls, live in a space made of light and dark, filled with fantasy and nightmares, a place where nonsense gives birth to violent storytelling and mysterious lucid dreaming. The scribbly lines that the artist traces leave space for the observer’s imagination to set free and create a story of his own, a vacuum which the viewer fills with his childish memories and his innermost beliefs and fears. At the same time, the thick paint amplifies the already strong presence of the artworks, filling them with consistency; a crossed-medium process that puts before our eyes what looks like an enlarged sketch. A childish aesthetic which is obtained through an extremely mature approach.

 

Robert Nava, Haunted Wolf House, 2019. Acrylic and grease pencil on canvas.

 

“A child rarely has the need to cross mediums, which results in limitations to their artistic language; for example, a child might attempt to communicate thunder and fire with similar utensils”

Another interesting aspect of Robert Nava’s process is the importance given to what the artist sees as “useful mistakes”, to the way Nava values what he carefully “does wrong”, to the challenge that lies in “unlearning” all of the academic dogmas that a painter learns during his early formation. An inverse process that requires courage, freedom and personality, a confrontation with one’s deepest self, that if overtaken leads to complete liberty and rampage.

“When I was 12 or 13, I could already draw and paint like Velazquez, but it took me a lifetime to learn how to draw like a kid again”

In a world that is constantly moving forward and is victim of its own acceleration, painters like Robert Nava remind us to look back at our past with loving and desirable eyes, to open up our minds towards what is said to be wrong but is in fact merely unconventional, because truth and freedom are most likely to be found in our deepest and most childish dreams.

 

Robert Nava, Untitled, 2019. Crayon, grease pencil and pencil on paper.

 

Cover image: Robert Nava, Untitled, 2019. Acrylic and grease pencil on canvas.

Wrtitten by Mario Rodolfo Silva

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

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