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A CRITIQUE PAPER ABOUT “KARNABAL” BY SALINGPUSA

Written by Dancel, Pia Olivia V. & Dejomo, Joyce Marie of 11 Stem 8 HSDT2

Karnabal is a painting made by the group Salingpusa back in 1992. The painting

is incredibly huge since its dimensions are 144 x 480 inches. Acrylic paint was used to

craft this piece on its main platform — a canvas. It is a versatile colorful painting with

various elements and diverse characters. The piece showcases the aspects you can

only find in a carnival — its performers, artists, trapeze, acrobats, trained animals, and

more. Cubism is utilized to bring together different views of subjects in the painting. Just

by a simple glance, one can find a lot of happenings are taking place because of the

splashing colors, lines, and figures which represent the sentiments and thoughts of the

group Salingpusa. The colors used are very bold, crisp, and strong. The technique used

is heavily expressing style of emotion, as if it screams a certain message for the planet

to know, and to be aware of.

Ygie (2015) stated in a blog that "The theme of a carnival with its freakshows and

games was utilized in this work as a visual device to register the artists’ dissatisfaction

with the divisive socio-political realities that deflated the euphoria following the end of

https://ygiemarielle.blogspot.com/2015/07/a-contemporary-art-museum.html?m=1
the Marcos regime by a popular uprising." As Marcos' two-decade long rule over the

country has come to an end, the Philippine sugar industry nearly collapsed because of

his manipulation of the sugar prices which caused the sugar market in the Philippines to

crash and resulted in losses of up to 140 billion pesos, Gross Domestic Product growth

has dropped 5.3 percent, unemployment hit one-fourth of the labor force, the wages of

the workers were significantly reduced, prices of primary export commodities fell by a

whopping 50 percent, and the citizens of the country were so deep in debt that even if

the little children payed tax along with adults, it would not satisfy all the debt Marcos

created for establishing institutions and foundations rapidly. During the 1970s Marcos

took out massive amounts of foreign currency loans. His regime could not repay the

loans by 1980s. He tried to hide the dire financial situation by overstating the figures for

foreign reserves. By then the economy was in a free fall.

Hence, they all thought Marcos was a great dictator for creating new possibilities

for the people but at the end of the day, they were just fooling themselves for these

infrastructures to be made cannot be done without sacrifice, which is the money of the

country. Marcos failed to control the improvement of the country along with the finances

of the land therefore creating a huge debt to the World Bank. Furthermore, the people

did not like the mismanagement of former president Marcos. We were just played by

Marcos and his games. It was merely a fantasy, an illusion.

https://ygiemarielle.blogspot.com/2015/07/a-contemporary-art-museum.html?m=1

https://news.abs-cbn.com/ancx/culture/art/09/27/18/dr-joven-cuanang
To sum everything up, the painting “Karnabal” is an ineffably meaningful and

beautiful painting mainly because of how the creators interpreted the contemporary

issues back then in such a witty and comical way. The theme of a carnival truly

expressed the feeling of being fooled and played by the games and phantasms of the

host, in which the people of the Philippines felt during the last part of the rule of Marcos.

He successfully gained our trust during the first portion of his reign, but he abused his

power. Indeed, everything Marcos showed and offered to us was too good to be true.

For years, the massive piece was on loan to a government institution where,

sadly, it came to a point it was already gathering bird poo. In short, it was not being

accorded the importance it deserved. “Tayo ‘yan eh,” Cuanang says, looking at the

mural 18 years after it was finished. Just as the work is a mirror to post-EDSA

Philippines, it is also a touchstone to what the doctor looks for in art pieces. “I don’t want

things that are pretty,” he says. “I want things that will provoke a reaction, negative or

positive. There should be a discourse…Ano ba'ng nangyari sa atin nung 1986, after the

revolution? Bumalik ang oligarchs, lumakas lalo ang religion, no coherence, no direction

provided by our leaders.”

His stature may not have its pull in that arena of politics, but Cuanang is a major

force in the art world. When he invites artists for a show, like in the recent exhibition in

Tokyo put together with the Asian Arts Council, they don't just send what's been

gathering dust in the studio; they come up with new work. When he suggested filling

what would be the St. Luke’s Medical Center in BGC with art to match the caliber of the

hospital’s vision, the hospital's officials told him they couldn’t afford it, because building

https://ygiemarielle.blogspot.com/2015/07/a-contemporary-art-museum.html?m=1

https://news.abs-cbn.com/ancx/culture/art/09/27/18/dr-joven-cuanang
the structure alone would already cost P9 billion. But Cuanang, then the hospital’s Chief

Medical Officer, knew he can make his idea a reality. He invited his chosen artists to

dinner and asked them if they were willing to make artworks especially for the

institution. “Choose your wall,” he told each of them. “Determine the size of the painting

you will give, you give me the price of your painting, and I will give you the equivalent of

a medical insurance.” Today, St. Luke’s in BGC boasts an impressive art collection from

some of the most sought-after talents in the visual arts. That's the power of this humble

Ilocano.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

https://ygiemarielle.blogspot.com/2015/07/a-contemporary-art-museum.html?m=1

https://news.abs-cbn.com/ancx/culture/art/09/27/18/dr-joven-cuanang