Happy Navarro finds joy in urbanscapes and breaking dawns

Imagine Happy Navarro trudging through his work for 16 years in agencies as a creative designer-director and feeling emotions that are opposite his name. “I felt burned out,” he shares. 

When he decided to become a full-time artist in 2018, Happy — who had been drawing and toying with paint since he was four years old — felt… well… happiness in pursuing his passion.

“Masarap sa pakiramdam ’yung ginagawa mo ay gusto mo — para kang hindi nagtatrabaho, in a way, kasi passion siya.”

Abstracts, urbanscapes, or whatever the mood dictates — these are what Happy creates on canvases and walls. The man is a muralist and he has done several projects for Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) properties such as Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Magnolia, Robinsons La Union, Robinsons Dumaguete, Robinsons Valencia and Dusit Thani Mactan Cebu.

“My first project with Robinsons Land was the Robinsons Valencia in Bukidnon,” he says. “Special ’to sa akin dahil ito ang first project ko with RLC and maganda ’yung feedback ng RLC.. I also collaborated with Robert Alejandro for the Robinsons Galleria South mural in San Pedro, Laguna. As for Robinsons Galleria in La Union, what I like about it is the message of the mural. It was also a challenge na matapos siya with the additional designs — just in time for the opening.”

Now, Navarro happily makes the transition from working on murals for mall-walls to creating art for gallery halls as he embarks on his first solo show at the exhibition space of the same company who has championed his work as a muralist.

Happy Navarro showcases his fine-art work in “Dawn is Breaking” from March 1 to 15 at Robinsons Land ARTablado in Robinsons Galleria.

For Happy, offering the artistic experience to everyday people is praiseworthy. Art is something to be shared, after all, and not regarded as something elitist or esoteric. ARTablado, he stresses, is known for showcasing artists from different backgrounds and presenting their works in a venue that is open and accessible. “People from all walks of life can see the exhibition in such a really great space. Robinsons is truly close to my heart.”   

As to the origin of the title of the exhibit, the artist explains: “One time nag-bike ako ng madaling araw just to roam around the city from Malabon to Pasig to Makati, and inabutan ako ng sunrise. Napansin ko ’yung progress ng sky from dawn to sunrise. Napakasimple niya pero ang ganda, may kakaibang feeling. Pinagmasdan ko din ’yung mga paligid, ’yung mga tao na papasok pa lang sa trabaho may iba naman na pauwi na galing sa kanya- kanyang pinanggalingan. May mga tao na gusto nang makauwi at may mga tao na gusto nang makarating na sa kani-kanilang trabaho na hindi na napapansin ’yung kagandahan ng langit, ng oras, at ng pagkakataon. Lahat tayo ay may dahilan para bumangon, dahilan para kumilos araw-araw. ‘Dawn is Breaking’ ang simula at katapusan ng bawat isa. Same time, different skies.”

What can people expect from Happy’s show? “A very different kind of visuals as well as feelings,” says the artist.

On view will be canvases of varying, minimalistic hues all chronicling what he saw during his

contemplative bike rides. It is not really a chronicling, per se, but a capturing of sorts. Moments such as breaking dawns and quiet mornings are ephemeral, with each one being unique and special. It is such a shame that people — either in their obsessive drive to earn their daily wages or in their robotic apathy — do not have the luxury or the desire to sit down and gaze at the magical, momentary mural in the sky.

What Happy Navarro does is to remember it for others: the world slowly waking up, the sun jutting out from its coverings of clouds, and the Divine — whatever it is that is bigger and more infinite than us — making a mural of it.

* * *

Established in 2020, Robinsons Land ARTablado, a portmanteau of “art” and “entablado” is Robinsons Land’s very own stage in showcasing the Filipino ingenuity and creativity. This platform allows emerging artists to freely express themselves through art and paves the way to greater recognition of their talent and hard work. To date, ARTablado has mounted numerous exhibitions and hosted over 500 artists.

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