"Papa Isio"

"Papa Isio" (2017)

Dexter Sy
Dexter Sy
2x4 Mixed Media On Canvas
People's Choice


“The story of Papa Isio, to whom the brand name Don Papa pays tribute, is a tale of heroism in the context of the Philippines’ colonial struggle. Like in many other documented resistance movements, Papa Isio led a revolution that traversed the intersections of land, religion and politics—he was a spiritual leader from the peasantry who fought for liberation from Spanish authority. His saga and the multiple dimensions it has taken unfold in this mixed media on canvas work which weaves the layers of nationalism, spirituality, and agrarian life through a rich gathering of images, symbols and icons. Papa Isio is imagined here as Christ indigenized through a native loincloth with a print of the Sacred Heart, and surrounding him are smaller figures and scenes juxtaposing indigenous peoples, icons and traditions, workers toiling in sugarcane plantations, and the supposed manifestation of our Christianized culture, the fiestas. Laying out these elements together creates a sort of map that illustrates religion and the entire landscape of beliefs and practices within it as an active site where indigenous culture has resisted the total onslaught of Westernization. It is in this realm that the indigenous has asserted or negotiated its continuity by being appropriated into a foreign belief system, a blending which anthropologists may call “folk Catholic.” In fiestas, for instance, old agricultural rituals and festivities have found their new expressions in the guise of Catholic tradition. The highly developed tradition of religious statuary since pre-colonial times has been carried over to the production of santos. These colorful instances of blending the local and foreign build a powerful visual image that echoes the struggle of the likes of Papa Isio. “

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