In Memoriam: Jeremias Elizalde Navarro, National Artist (1924-1999)
June 10 marks the 21st death anniversary of Jeremias Elizalde Navarro, Philippine National Artist for Visual Arts.
Born on May 22, 1924 in Antique, Navarro was a prolific artist, excelling in various forms of art, including drawing, painting, sculpting, printmaking, and graphic designing.
According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Navarro's dedication to visual arts spread over a period of 40 years.
"His masks carved in hardwood merge the human and the animal; his paintings consists of abstracts and figures in oil and watercolor, and his assemblages fuse found objects and metal parts," the NCCA said.
The Mercier Gallery of Fine Arts said Navarro won a one-year scholarship at the School of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines. He continued his studies at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), graduating in 1951 with a degree in Fine Arts, major in painting.
Navarro married his fellow artist, Virginia Ty-Navarro, best known for being the sculptor of the bronze statue of Our Lady Queen of Peace at EDSA Shrine, Quezon City. In 2019, the NCCA declared EDSA Shrine as an "Important Cultural Property."
Navarro and his wife Virginia had many similarities: both were born in 1924; both studied in UST, and both were into painting and sculpting.
According to Mercier, Navarro worked at an advertising agency, eventually becoming its creative director. However, during this time, he also continued to do paintings and sculptures. He only became a full-time painter and sculptor in the late 1970s.
Navarro's works were greatly influenced by traditional Japanese art, which he learned on a visit to Japan after being invited there by a youth association.
The NCCA said Navarro also drew inspiration from Balinese art and culture. In 1989, he became the first Filipino to have a work of art featured in the Yayasan Dharma Seni Museum Neka in Bali, Indonesia.
Navarro passed away in 1999 at the age of 75. He was also named National Artist for Visual Arts in the same year.
Some of Navarro's works:
"I’m Sorry Jesus, I Can’t Attend Christmas This Year" (1965);
"Homage to Dodjie Laurel" (1969: Ateneo Art Gallery collection);
"A Flying Contraption for Mr. Icarus" (1984: Lopez Museum), and
"The Seasons" (1992; Prudential Bank collection).