To Taiwan
(English 中文)

  Jason Cole Mager is a New York City based artist currently working in Taipei, Taiwan. After a few visits to Taipei in 2013, Mager began studying the political and cultural history of Taiwan and allowing these new findings and insights to completely change his work. “I took my interests in history, which had usually been from a familial point of view, and redirected them into the vast images and icons which were used to denote political parties or family seals/crests (Japanese Kamon)." Focusing mostly on the two major modern colonizations of Taiwan by the Dutch and Japanese, Mager illustrates the coming and going of cultures by placing one symbol next to, on top of, or completely replacing another. These are history paintings that may appear as nothing more than decoration or wallpaper if one is not intimately familiar with the historical significance of the symbols. Mager sees politics as part of history and something that should not polarize cultures but bring them together. “These are opportunities for us to learn from one another and show compassion and understanding. Although history is riddled with tragedy, it is there for us to learn from and should be embraced in our current lives as well as our art.” Mager was awarded an Artist Visa from the Taiwanese government and has spent the last seven years calling Taiwan home in hopes of expanding on his work and further embracing the culture.

  The series, To Taiwan, addresses our shared histories and our roles in the future through the use of symbols which are quite recognizable, but grow new meaning when depicted side by side or overlapping one another. Not unlike the common practice of placing two emojis together to create new meaning, these paintings tell of intimate moments, some tragic, heroic, romantic and even comical. These symbols are so common to us that we often forget the power they may have once placed in proximity to another. The symbol identifies places, people and their histories. The placement is the narrative.