J. C. Kuo’s art series “St. Taiwan” visualizes his observation and discussion on sundry issues arising from Taiwanese society, his place of residence. Considering different dimensions such as religion, politics, media and education, Kuo leveled his criticism over many phenomena endemic in Taiwan through his oeuvre.
In [St. Taiwan — Tattoo], the figure’s penetrating gaze conveys an impression that he has a keen insight into matters. Sitting leisurely and relaxed, he seems to know exactly which course to take, although his face is obscured. Kuo deliberately covered part of the figure’s face with a printed fabric mask, creating an atmosphere that he is in an advantageous situation where the enemies’ activities are overt whereas his are covert. The artist believes that some politicians are averse to exposure, while others may don different disguises on different occasions, which was why he invoked the metaphor of traditional printed fabric to imply the mindset of self-protection.
An insignia encircled by a golden halo is embedded behind the figure’s head, bringing a sense of accolade and inviolable sacredness. We may wonder whether it is a genuine appreciation or an insinuating irony, and whether the artist expressed something in the deepest recesses of his mind without the slightest reservation by means of his blunt, explicit criticism.
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