You could say that art is in Adrián Navarro’s blood. Nevertheless, it took him awhile to answer his calling as an painter. Growing up in Boston and Madrid, Navarro had access to world-class museums and galleries. His father was a painter and his childhood home was filled with art books about the Renaissance, Post-Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism. Yet when it came time for college, Navarro completed nearly eight years of architecture training. And then decided that he should leave it behind.
“I had plenty of time to realize that even though I like architecture, my vocation was to be a painter,” the artist says. “You can’t help it, sometimes you have things inside that you have to get out.”
Navarro moved to New York for a year and a half, where he began to teach himself to paint. “At the beginning, I wanted to break totally from architecture because I didn’t think painting was related to architecture,” he explains. “You have to find your own language, you have to work through technique—I was trying to forget everything I learned.” Although, after painting for more than 15 years, architecture has returned to his practice, exemplified through his geometric artworks that play with illusion.
“Having trained as an architect, you see space as something that you have to inhabit. Slowly I decided to do that in painting,” he continues. “My work is also related to graphic design, it’s related to digital language—all of these things I learned in architecture.” Now based in London with his partner and three-year-old daughter, Navarro designs his images with architectural computer software and uses stencils to render the final images on canvas. From afar, his works appear rigidly graphic, but closer up the shapes jump into the three-dimensional world. “I want to bring illusion back to the abstract language,” he says. “I think the notion of space is changing. Everything is virtual, it’s rendered, it seems to be artificial. What is reality nowadays? That is my question: What is digital and what is physical?”