// Taichung, Taiwan //
Jessica Tao is a fine artist. She was born in 1978 in Taiwan and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California State University in 2001. Her work has been included in a broad range of group exhibitions — both in Taiwan and internationally, and her works have been selected for national Taiwanese competitions and also awarded at an international level. Her works are held in a range of collections, including the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and Art Bank Taiwan.
Jessica creates her own form of pop surrealism by fusing traditional Chinese painting, printing and drawing techniques with contemporary themes. Her works are also notable for their incorporation of techniques such as gilding and finely detailed ink colouring.
Jessica Tao’s works depict goldfish/human hybrids, and are an exploration of the contemporary integration of American culture into Taiwan. Jessica compares the characteristics of these fish with the people around her, to represent the mixed state of Taiwanese society. She uses light colors — symbolising crops or buildings — and dream-like compositions to present her observations.
Jessica’s interest in goldfish stems from the fact that they are not originally found in nature — they are a species that has been cultivated by people for the pleasure of viewing. Interestingly, the goldfish has no stomach — only intestines. This means that between eating and excreting there is very little digestion. The seemingly delicate goldfish is in fact not very picky. When is it fed? What do they eat? Who feeds them? It basically makes no difference to the goldfish.
In her work, Jessica aims to reflect the cultural hybridity of Taiwan, with its different ethnic groups and cultures that interacting with each other. She believes that the Taiwanese are highly receptive to varied information and to different cultural influences — this is also very similar to the behavior of goldfish. Taiwan is also a very young democratic society, so Jessica mostly creates childlike goldfish characters, symbolizing her country’s young and fragile democracy.
Jessica states that: “People always say that the most beautiful “scenery” in Taiwan is the people who live here. That is how friendly the Taiwanese are. But Taiwanese people tend to be forgetful, which means that many controversial topics only have a short term exposure, and a lot of social problems are not taken seriously“. Jessica uses the visual image of goldfish to compare their characteristics with the collective character of Taiwanese society.