Taiwan artists take election inspiration as vote nears

TAINAN/TAOYUAN, Taiwan (Reuters) - Two Taiwanese artists - one who paints with his fingers and the other embracing the Japanese manga style – are taking inspiration from the drama of the island’s political scene ahead of a heated election on Saturday.

Taiwanese artist Kuang Yi paints with his fingers a painting featuring presidential candidates for the Taiwan election, next to a small lake in an artist village he built as a tourist attraction in Tainan, southern Taiwan January 2, 2020. REUTERS/Fabian Hamacher

The vote pits President Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party against Han Kuo-yu from the Kuomintang party, which favours close ties with China.

Taiwan is decked out in campaign posters and flags, and as the candidates appeal for support from the backs of trucks, in markets and at temples, the atmosphere is ripe for artistic license.

Kuang Yi, who calls himself the “mad artist”, fingerpaints next to a small lake in the artist village he built as a tourist attraction in the southern city of Tainan from hundred-year-old bricks. He said he tries not to take sides in his art.

“I have friends on both sides, they’re all good friends,” he says, referring to Taiwan’s political camps that are divided first and foremost by their China policy.

On the other side of the island, in the northern city of Taoyuan, manga artist Wei Zong-cheng takes a less neutral approach.

While Tsai is coloured green, the DPP’s colour, Han is shaded purple rather than the Kuomintang’s blue.

Wei says that is because he has mixed in a little red to show Han’s China-friendly stance, a reference to the colour of China’s ruling Communist Party.

Wei has also been drawing political cartoons for years for Taiwanese media.

But in Taiwan’s fast-moving political scene, where new scandals and controversies emerge seemingly every day, the cartoons can have a short shelf life.

“When a big scandal comes out in the morning (after publishing) it will mean that we didn’t get it right,” he said.

Reporting by Fabian Hamacher; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Gerry Doyle