I am fortunate to run into Robert Nava often. Most of the time he is on his way to and from his Bushwick studio, up the street from mine. Sometimes I even see him in other parts of town waving from the window of the truck he drives for his moving job. Last week I finally made it over to his studio for a visit and it was a good time as always. If you haven’t already seen his show at Three Four Three Four Gallery it is well worth it to make an appointment. It will be up through January 9th. –Brandi Twilley
BT: You drive a truck during the day and by night have been working on a series of paintings of trucks. How do you feel about the way “high” and “low” art languages interact in your work at the moment?
RN: I’m really not trying to glorify physical labor, but I am trying to turn a thing of boredom and mesmerization of NYC traffic into something more hieroglyphic and anthropomorphic. These areas of going slow are interesting to me in painting and I feel like the trucks behave like something kind of ancient.
BT: What artists do you look at these days?
RN: At the moment, Horace Pippin, Edvard Munch, and children’s art.
BT: When was the last time a painting really surprised you?
RN: The last time was with David Ostrowski’s “F series.”
BT: You take a lot of inspiration from things like overheard conversations and fragments of movie scenes. What are some of the odd things you have encountered recently that may find their way into your work?
RN: There were two people walking on the sidewalk passing by, all I caught was “it was around down here, and it had one yellow stripe, and then TWO yellow stripes!, -you have got to be kidding!”. That conversation snippet helped influence a move later in the studio to include yellow and black hazard tape on the back of a flatbed.
BT: Your sense of humor is always present in your work. What are your thoughts on the role humor plays in your practice?
RN: I think before a lot of humor was trying to be forced before starting a piece and the problem there was I would be the only one finding it funny sometimes. Caroll Dunham told me that if you are funny it will show through the work naturally. So I think now I’m trusting humorous impulse to show through more unconsciously and it allows more room to direct my focus on other things.
BT: If you could have a painting super power what would it be? For example I wish I could undo moves like in Photoshop.
RN: Hmmm, smaller brains probably, then it would be a lot easier to not over think while painting.
Robert’s solo show “I’m Rubber You’re Glue” will be up through January 9th at Three Four Three Four Gallery located at 34 34th St. 4th Floor, Brooklyn NY.
www.robertnava.com Instagram: @robertnava7