I drink all sorts of wines and beers, including very expensive ones. However, the most prevalent drink featured in one of my series is “Taiwan Beer”—a lager that belongs very much to the collective consciousness, if you will, of men in Taiwan. It reminds us of joyful times—“bottoms up!”
Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai Shek with their arms around each other. This is something that we probably won’t find in the historical archives, but it is a scenario that appears in my paintings—the two reconciled, smiling. No doubt the viewer will notice that Chiang Kai-shek is holding a bottle of Taiwan Beer.
In my paintings, I also have Mao Zedong wear a pair of “China Strong.” Those are canvas shoes that were widely popular among high school boys in Taiwan during the 60s and 70s. A few years ago, the shoes came back into fashion as part of a retrospective wave; later on, it became a Taiwanese icon of sorts. With regards to the name of the shoes, I am sure that a lot of people around my age all thought that “China” meant Taiwan when we were young.
In fact, China Strong was an imitation of Converse All Stars, which has a five-pointed star as its trademark; back in the day, however, the displaying of five-pointed stars was a taboo in Taiwan, given that the Communists of mainland China also had such stars on their flag. In my work, having Mao Zedong wear a pair of China Strong (or Converse All Stars) was a deliberate decision.