hamburger icon

Fondazione Iris

Robert Nava

Via Belvedere, 19, 01030 Bassano in Teverina VT
July 5, 2023 - Sep 3, 2023

Robert Nava, Flying Far from the Sun, 2023, Acrylic and grease pencil on paper, 50 x 55 15/16 in, 127 x 142 cm
Robert Nava, Cloud and Water Dragon, 2023, Acrylic and grease pencil on paper, 51 3/16 x 44 1/2 in, 130 x 113 cm
Robert Nava, Darkside Carriage, 2023, Acrylic and grease pencil on paper, 22 1/2 x 29 7/8 in, 57.1 x 75.9 cm
Robert Nava, Bone Head Angel, 2023, Acrylic and grease pencil on canvas, 71 1/4 x 42 1/8 in, 181 x 107 cm
Robert Nava, Bone Song, 2023, Acrylic and grease pencil on paper, 30 x 22 in, 76.2 x 55.9 cm
Robert Nava, Between Beasts We Understand Each Other, 2023, Acrylic and grease pencil on canvas, 111 13/16 x 201 9/16 in, 284 x 512 cm


Over the past two years, the Twombly family has worked on renovating Cy Twombly’s old studio in Bassano in Teverina. The 17th century palazzo was acquired in 1975 and with the cooperation of Giorgio Franchetti it was remodeled into a home and studio.

For Cy, Bassano signified an escape into an atavistic land that is the Tuscia in central Italy, home of the ancient Etruscans. As the heat in the city intensified during humid Italian summers, the thick tuff (the endemic stone of the area) helped keep these rooms temperate. Cy lived and worked here in ascetic conditions and opened the doors only for family and close collaborators, intimately painting some of his career’s most significant works.

Fondazione Iris is a physical testimony of the Twombly family spirit and its ambition to cultivate the ideas and daimon of artists. Iris will welcome artists and function as an exhibition and performance space as well as a center of studies for scholars wishing to research Cy’s library. In this space, we hope to propel, or at least to inspire, the practices of these artists, and to develop a sincere environment for investigation and exploration.

On the occasion of the inauguration we will present an exhibition of Robert Nava, with a new body of work realized during his stay at Iris. Nava echoes a force akin to that which carried Cy’s oeuvre. There isn’t an artist more fitting to catalyze this project.

Driven by his desire to make “new myths” responsive to our times, Robert Nava (b. 1985, East Chicago) 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 pretensions of high art and invites viewers to reconnect with the unbridled imagination of their childhoods.

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.

Nava's work can be found in the collection of Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris, France; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, California; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; The Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio; Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana, CA, and Zuzeum Art Center, Riga, Latvia. His art has been exhibited in various solo exhibitions both domestically and abroad, including Bloodsport (2022) at Night Gallery, Robert Nava (2021) at Pace East Hampton, Robert Nava (2021) at Pace Palm Beach, Robert Nava: Angels (2021) at Vito Schnabel Gallery, and Robert Nava (2020) at Sorry We're Closed in Brussels.