Dave Navarro, a vocal survivor of depression for more than 40 years, is highlighting the conversation about mental illness and mental health through a new art collaboration with L.A. artist PADHiA. Together, they are creating fine art, street art and prints, under the name Duel Diagnosis.
“When it comes to the mental health, we’re not only talking about what some might see as a liability, but we are also seeing some of our diagnoses, if you will, as superpowers,” Navarro tells Variety. Duel Diagnosis will be part of a group show, opening June 24 at Julien’s Gallery in Beverly Hills, alongside PADHiA.
“I think in a lot of ways PADHiA [who is a PTSD survivor] and I working together as Duel Diagnosis is part of our recovery process,” Navarro says. “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve said to each other, ‘Man, if it wasn’t for you, I don’t know if I would be breathing.’ We’ve had some dark times recently.”
Duel Diagnosis art prints have a punk edge: In some, with an “X” is overlaid with a black, drip-style butterfly; in others, text such as “I’ll never be the sane” and “Insanity is its own cure” is incorporated in the image. Tight vertical scrawl-type lines and a print collage add to the texture.
About one in five Americans experienced a type of mental illness in 2020, according to the National Alliance of Mental Health. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with suicides increasing 35% since 1999. Navarro has talked publicly for years about the importance of mental health and treating mental illness, including for services offered to music industry professionals by Musicares, and his own struggles with suicidal feelings.
“In essence the darkness is there so you know where the light is,” says Navarro, whose struggles with heroin were documented in his 2004 memoir “Don’t Try This at Home,” of his Duel Diagnosis partner. “It’s finding that dance for us, and this is our process.”
PADHiA is a fixture of L.A. public art, with conceptual pieces of lifestyle inspiration, such as “Unfuk Yoursef” and “Love Me Anyways,” are a common sight on a drive through the city.
Navarro has had friendships in the street art and graffiti art communities for years, building friendships with L.A. artists Vyal, Teachr and Risk.
The Julien’s Gallery exhibit, “Degrees of Separation,” will also feature work by Blek le Rat, Risk, Estevan Oriol, Plastic Jesus, WRDSMITH, Meg Zany, and Billy Morrison, the latter of whom, like Navarro, has had a successful career as a rock musician.
Beyond visual art, Navarro is active with his influential band, Jane’s Addiction, which has concert dates in September, and one-off collaborations, such as contributing guitar to a recent Yungblud track.
For “Ink Master” fans – who are many for the show’s 13 seasons with Navarro as the host — “Ink Master” will return to Paramount TV in some form, but without Navarro, he revealed.
“Well, I’m done with ‘Ink Master,’” Navarro told Variety. “We ended after 13 seasons. I understand that Paramount is rebooting the show with an all-new cast. I wish them luck on that. Thirteen years of it, so I’m good.”
Art these days is merging with technologies in new ways. Navarro said he is dipping his toe in the NFT space – a digital art style that is a hot area of investment and consumption – taking business meetings recently alongside PADHiA about NFTs’ potential.
The concept of high-priced digital art, as NFTs are, is still a bit amorphous, Navarro said, and has logistical problems, such as an unappealing and rigid square aspect ratio, prohibitive price, and a cold distance between artist and audience.
“It’s certainly a way for up-and-coming artists to make some money, certainly if they make affordable NFTs that a multitude of people can buy, I see that as valuable because it supports the up-and-coming artist,” Navarro said. “But I will never understand spending $69 million on a bunch of zeroes and ones that I can look at on my iPhone.”