Mario Navarro’s Witty Musings on Modernist Legacies

With a dash of humor, the Brooklyn artist imagines random objects—a traffic cone, lipstick, and lightbulb—jutting through the ubiquitous Thonet No. 14 chair as a comment on Modernism and consumption.

Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.

Bio: Mario Navarro, 37, Brooklyn (@mariomarionavarro)

Title of work: Id Est (mushroom, wine, match, candle, cone, bulb, leg, flag, brick column, roman column lamp).  

Where to see it: “A Chair Is a Chair Is a Chair” at Galerie Kitsuné (108 Bond Street, Brooklyn) until April 3.

Three words to describe it: Chairs, chairs, chairs.

What was on your mind at the time: The series started during the lockdown due to Covid-19. My studio was not accessible and I needed to find a way to work on a small scale with tools at hand. These drawings have become a form of personal therapy.

An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: Objects that accompany the Thonet No. 14 chair were encountered randomly either as images, on the street, or in my dreams.

How it reflects your practice as a whole: The legacy of modern architects and designers and how their heritage has been digested in popular culture has been immersed in my work. The idea of introducing random elements overlapped with a Thonet chair responds to a need of creating a humorous gesture to wonder about the effects of assimilation, decay, and other forms of consumption.

One song that captures its essence: “Playtime” by Robert Gorl.

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