Itak Sa Puso Ni Mang Juan by Antipas Delotavo
Itak sa Puso ni Mang Juan Analysis...
1. Form and Style a. What do you see in the painting? A man, slightly stooped, passing by an overwhelmingly large billboard advertising the Coca-Cola product. The serif of the letter ‘C’ appears to nearly touch the fatigued figure. b. Described the person in the painting. How is he portrayed? Mang Juan’s posture and stance, described by a side view, 45°-angled bowing head, an anxious and disturbed face, a passive slouching back, and a seemingly-weak right-hand holding his left elbow through his back, suggests his complete submission to the rules enforced by the dominion of the influential and selected few in this game of survival. One obeys his master, as the saying goes. The emergence of imperial tycoons and political dynasties strengthened economic ties whereby its effects seemed detrimental for most of the Filipino people. c. Describe the background? The sparkles and flash of light observed in the painting symbolize the glamour associated with foregoing one thing for Coca-Cola. The artwork itself reflects market deception homogenized with the company’s bargain of introducing its satirically “commendable” products to the Filipino people. The company’s primal objective, to grant everyone access to self-fulfillment, manifests itself in the hazy “cloud-nine-like” feature in the work, as witnessed by character Mang Juan and the viewer. d. How will you describe the painting to someone who has not seen it? I’m going to describe the painting by how the way it looks. I’m going to describe the physical appearance of the man on the painting and what the Coca-Cola logo symbolizes in the painting.
2. Content a. What is the theme of the painting? Itak sa Puso ni Mang Juan is a feedback on the negative impacts of globalization or commercialization in the Philippines. As perceived, a dagger-like tail of the letter C in the company’s title is pointed at the heart of Mang Juan. This exposes the struggle of an average Filipino worker, the embodiment of the Filipino public or the masa, against the agonizing monopoly and economic control of international corporations, most of which are offering products and services that entice consumers to live life according to “wants”, and not “needs”.
b. Who is being represented? The painting depicts a slouched man passing by an overwhelmingly large billboard advertising the famous product Coca-Cola. The man is a portrayal of us Filipinos as one can derive from the way he looks: tan skin and clothes. On the other hand, the Coca-Cola logo is the symbol of capitalism and in Delotavo’s own words, of “cultural enslavement.” Coca-Cola has been already touted as the poster boy of “globalization”. c. What does this painting remind you of? It reminds me of the past when the Marcos regime rules the Philippines. That time when the United States of America manipulates a third world country like us. d. What is the message of the artist? Delotavo’s interesting visual artwork reflects on the negative effects the CocaCola Company has brought about to a Third World country, the Philippines. Filipino artists like Delotavo applied on his artworks the concept of déjà vu, where history kept on repeating itself, captured through preservation by art, depicting outrageous elite power-grabs and manipulations which dumped the larger bulk of burdens on the lowest sectors of the society, the labor force, pulling them down below the poverty line. Profitoriented control of prices of goods, falsified media exposure of stocks downfall, irrational downgrade of wages, elevation of additional tax, and workers pullout, all followed a cyclic path still existing up to now. The artwork figuratively encases itself as an effect of continuous, unchanged processes caused by man himself, which then inspired more artists to use brushes, paint, and canvass to portray happenings in their time that would be history in time.
3. Elements and Principles a. How are the elements of art used in the painting? In his work, it may be seen that he emanated the natural colors of existing entities to instill on viewers that keen sense of familiarity over the subject and sequentially, to elicit points of view from different Filipino backgrounds. The sharp tip of the C in the logo appears to be subtly stabbing Mang Juan in the chest. The splashes of red then appear to me as blood spatters on a fabric. The sharp tip of the C may refer to colonialism and capitalism, and perhaps even the cancer of the society. Since there is a small gap between the tip of the C and Mang Juan’s chest, this can be interpreted as a slow death for Mang Juan.
b. What principles of design are more dominant in the painting? Asymmetrical balance is used in the painting with regular rhythm and emphasis on the logo of the Coca-Cola and Mang Juan’s body to draw attention to a certain parts and easily attracts the attention of the viewer.
4. Context a. In what type of society has the work been produced? The painting Itak sa Puso ni Mang Juan was painted by Antipas Delotavo in 1978. It was painted on a paper using watercolour during the Marcos Regime which aims to put emphasis on Nationalist Art in the quest for national identity and on the need to break away from the western-oriented culture. b. Is the message relevant in the present times? Yes. Mang Juan appears to me as if he is being held back by himself or an intangible presence. This may be read as a symbolism of us Filipinos not being able to move forward because of our own faults. We are being held back not only by an intangible presence, neo-colonialism, but also because of our mental colonialism. We are being enslaved by the foreign country not in terms of violence and warfare but in terms of our culture and economy. Itak sa Puso ni Mang Juan is a realist depiction of the abstract thought of what capitalism, globalism, colonialism is doing to our country. The artist managed to bring into focus the economic and political relationship between the logo and Mang Juan’s body. c. Does the title contribute to the message of the painting? in what way? Yes, Itak sa Puso ni Mang Juan which symbolizes by the bladelike tail of the Coca-Cola sign seems to stab the old man’s heart, drained of blood and vigor symbolically depicts the harsh reality of transnational corporations.
5. Personal Opinion a. What other title can you give this painting? The Painful Truth about the Coca-Cola Company b. Pretend that you were inside this painting. How would you have felt? Why would you feel that way? I would have felt the agony and pain of Mang Juan, too. The fact that transnational corporations are ruling in the Philippines shows that we are not yet free
from the hands of our foreign oppressors. The negative effects of globalization and commercialization directly affects the lives of ordinary Filipino workers. c. Why did the artist made this painting? Delotavo explains that he was drawn to the Coke icon because for him it incarnated the ubiquity of the US in the Third World; its internecine interventions in Southeast Asia; and its support for the Ferdinand Marcos regime in the Philippines, which hosted two of the US’s largest foreign military bases. Also crucial here is advertising as a vehicle of imperialism, in guaranteeing the US’s hegemonic presence in the economy and culture of the Philippines even after it gained independence in 1946, following nearly fifty years of US rule and three centuries of Spanish occupation. The Coke logo is concomitantly a cipher of capitalism and, in Delotavo’s own words, of ‘cultural enslavement’. d. What do you think is the extraordinary about his painting? As for me, belonging to a financially unstable family, the big picture suggested here is that Coca-Cola’s presence in the country grants it the power to manipulate the economy, and eventually, the people’s lives – then centered on basic needs like food, shelter and water, being faced with or dueled by the company’s products like Coke, Royal and Sprite. Thus, it draws out the idea that art is an excavation of the artist’s imagination and that it comes along with the progression of society and history. Moreover, a connection becomes established between the viewer and the viewed since the latter signifies things Filipinos are accustomed to: the physical attributes of Mang Juan (skin and hair colors, façade, and dress code), the company’s title Coca-Cola, and the artwork’s identity (work label and author).