Artist Interviews 2021

Duel Diagnosis  
By Johnny Otto

Duel Diagnosis is a collaboration between Dave Navarro and PADHiA.


To be human is to struggle sometimes. Happiness is not always a choice. Sometimes the sun goes away and you can't even find the spot where it used to be.

Shame has never saved anyone.

Instead we celebrate. We unify.

That is the sh*t that saves people.

We all have our struggles, disorders, traumas, misadventures, flaws, and defects. We are not set in concrete summarized by some shitty one-dimensional label. We are human, fallible, covered with bruises, affected... we are also healing, evolving, and each uniquely beautiful.

We celebrate honesty. Realness. We wear our humanity proudly. We find beauty even in things that seem destructive because we know we are all just doing our best. We are compassion. We are humor at the ridiculousness of it all. We are a reminder in the darkness, that the depths of one's depression is equal to one's capacity for joy as the light that follows darkness is always more expansive.

We imagine a world where the things you have been through make you special and gifted instead of marked and worth less. A world where our stories are not baggage but instead treasure, badges of honor... living testaments of Heroism.

This is an interview with Dave Navarro from July 2021. PADHiA was not available.

I just kind of want to know how your collaboration started with PADHiA?

I'm an avid art collector myself. And several years ago, I saw one of her works. It was a piece that said, "Love Me Anyways", I reached out to her and purchased the piece. We became good friends, and realized that we both had some struggles in our lives that were difficult to manage day to day. And we ultimately decided to join forces and having those struggles and learning to be okay with it. That's really how Duel Diagnosis was born. It was born out of a desire to point out that just about everybody in the world has something that makes them feel different or shameful, whether it's mental illness or just being bullied or not feeling like they fit in, that we have a home for them. And to say that you're not alone. And in doing that, we found that we weren't alone. And it was the people that resonate with the work, help us and fill our hearts in return. We found ourselves in a very interesting situation where we've created kind of this healing loop where the people have touched by our art, feel less alone...and ,then, as a result, we feel less alone. And it's kind of a beautiful thing to have happen.

PADHiA is from where? Is she from Los Angeles?


Okay, so you were at one of her shows out here in LA?

No, I was working with Plastic Jesus, and they shared a studio space. So, I saw some pieces of hers in that space. So I reached out to her without even knowing if the Artist was a man or a woman. I didn't know any of her history or anything. I just said, "I love the piece". And the interesting thing is that the piece says "love me anyways", and in a strange way, Duel Diagnosis is just an expanded version of that. We're saying that it's okay to feel all these different ways, there's no reason to feel shame for being different, because everybody's different.

We just really hit it off as collaborators. And, the key to that for us is that we truly listen to one another. So for instance, I will say something in passing, and she will go, Oh, I've got to write that down. So she'll write it down. And the next thing we know we have 10 ideas that came from just paying attention to one another, and vice versa, she'll say or do something and I'll say, oh, that would be a great piece.

Great minds think alike!

Well, we, I think that we operate on a similar, you know, we operate on a similar misfiring mind.

So how do we how do we get rid of the word "shame" in our vocabulary when dealing with mental health?

I don't know that we'll ever get rid of it. But I think that I think it's actually important we just re-address the word and say, because we're never going to...we're never going to get rid of the word. And we're never going to stop people from feeling shame. But what we can do is point out that putting oneself through shame is counterproductive, when it comes to your healing. So that I think, I think, if anything, the word is now important, as a signpost of what to avoid.

Because like, when I, when I was growing up, my dad was a doctor. And if anything happened to us, she could always go to your your dad, you know, or somebody in authority, if you broke a leg or got hurt somehow. But if you felt alone or depressed, or were having some kind of mental issues, there's never anybody to go to.

That's right. I don't know how old you are, but when I was growing up there, you know, I grew up in the 60s and 70s...there was no-one. Mental health wasn't even something that was talked about. So I spent a lot, a lot of my childhood really feeling disconnected and lonely.

I think a lot of artists, I mean, maybe that's the reason we've come artists just because we feel like we need to get something out of this.

Yeah. And I did that for as a child I do I turn to music was my first, Well, you know, actually, that's not true. I was an artist, before I was a musician, and then musician, then music became my focus, but whatever type of art, whether it's visual art, music, film, poetry, writing, anything like of that nature. Those are all ways in which we can channel what's going on inside of us. And I've been doing that my whole life.

Now who actually designed the (Duel Diagnosis) logo?

The logo is a Rorschach test, which is a old, archaic, psychiatric tool. The logo, I'm not sure how it came about. But I, Padhia and I wanted to use a Rorschach test logo for Duel Diagnosis. And as you see, we spell it D-e-u-l. That's the plan words, Duel meaning there's two of us. When you think of a Duel there's, it's usually opposing forces fighting one another. And that's kind of how we feel within our own brains sometimes. But the logo is the Rorschach test. So it really was it was a it was an ink blot painting of a gun that I folded in half. And it revealed what also looks like a butterfly.

So that was accidental!?

I think it was actually it's hard to remember, because I was on set. I was doing a television show in New York. And I was in between takes and I was just kind of playing with a ink blot Rorschach tests and it kind of became the perfect symbol for us because it to this day, it's amazing to me that you know people call it "the guns". Some people some people call it the butterfly.

I, the first thing I saw was the butterflies, but then I realized it was two guns. And then I kind of realized, Oh, that's what the dueling is. It's the two guns or the two sides of your psyche.

Yeah, yes, yes. Yeah, but but the beautiful thing is, it's just like, in the old days, when they did Rorschach tests, they would say there's no wrong answer. It's just what you see is what you see. But if you said something that was a little bit provocative, they would lock you up!


But today, to have this logo and have different people see different things in it. That's just embracing all of the human condition. And that goes in line with our piece that's "live laugh, love, die cry, hate", which sounds like it's us being sarcastic about the live laugh, love thing. But the truth is, what the peace means is that there's all this positive messaging out there. And you know, happiness is a choice, live, laugh, love, and you see it everywhere. But people who suffer from depression feel alienated when they see that kind of signage, because they don't identify with it. And then it makes them feel that there's something wrong with them for not feeling like that.

Because it's not a choice. It's not a choice. When people say, choose happiness.

Yeah, it's not asy to do...when you're struggling. So we put "die cry hate" as the counter as the Yang to that Yin of "live live love", because we're saying, hold up guys, the human condition exists of all of these things...and all of these things are okay to feel because that's what makes us human.

That's awesome. You donate a portion of the proceeds to Safe Horizons, is that right?

Actually, we work with a multitude of charities, but we do Limited Edition print runs that go to different organizations. The last one we did went to the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Hotline here in Los Angeles, who saved millions of lives. They're the oldest suicide hotline in LA, we work with the Jed Foundation, do work with Safe Horizon, we work we just put out a print for Pride Month, that's it's aimed at destigmatizing transgender shame. And those proceeds go to help. But we we we do that in specific print ones. So there's, there's a division of the company that is highly motivated in terms of making a difference to these different organizations. But at the end of the day, that PADHiA and I are just two artists making art, you know, and it started out as a T shirt line, then we became interested in incorporating our fine art and then we started doing screen installs and then in house installations as you saw, and so our our goals and missions constantly, the goalpost keeps moving.

That's what I was gonna ask you...what's coming up next for you after this auction at Julien's?

I don't know. I mean, we, we have a bunch of plans. We're trying to put some pieces in some public spaces so people can, can enjoy them, and especially the peace "Let's go for a ride", which was the big tower of car wreckage. That really signifies like moments of trauma, and moments of loss and fear that we found these pieces scattered on the road, and we rearrange them into something beautiful, just as we get to, as human beings take a bad situation and learn to grow and be stronger and happier from it. Or we can perish and we choose to not perish.

That's awesome.

Yeah, thank you. So we're looking towards doing that we have, you know, we also have new designs for our merch side coming out. And we're looking to do more installations and you know, this close after the show, it's hard to have plans, the shows still up, right. So it's hard. It's hard to have a set agenda at this moment, because it's a lot to take down. The next thing for us is to get it all out of there, which is going to be a production.

You mentioned collaborating with Plastic Jesus. Did you collaborate with all the artists that were there that night or different ones?

Let's see a piece I did with Meg Zany that sold. There's a piece that Risk collaborated with us on.

Which one was that was that?

That was the two guns that were dipped in diamond dust on top of the 1000 syringes. T hat was Duel Diagnosis and Risk. There was a piece that Billy Morrison and I did that was a silent auction mannequin piece. But I've collaborated with Billy Morrison on a number of pieces. I've only collaborated with WRDSMTH in the street. And he and I have done lots of we've done some things in the street together but nothing on canvas. And then of course Blek le Rat is the King. And I've never met him.

He's in France?

I believe so. So you know, that wasn't even really the intention. But it just so happened. And the reason the shows "Degrees of Separation" is because we all know each other. And so we're all friendly. We're all friendly. We've all had ways of working with one another and, and frankly, Plastic Jesus is one of my teachers, you know, I mean, all these other artists that I get an opportunity to work with, I consider my teachers. I started coming to him for, or art lessons. You know, he was just, he's so dedicated to it and loves to give his knowledge away to people that are passionate about it. And that was another thing for me that was pretty exciting was that, you know, he was the guy that I, I learned a lot of techniques from. And now I'm going to show with him. You know, this justR be a part of that is so humbling. And it's such an honor, you know, let alone to be in a show with Risk and Blek le Rat, WRDSMTH and Billy Morrison, Meg Zany. I mean, I think I couldn't have been happier with how it came off. Really was a dream come true.

Copyright 2021/ Art Squat /