Chi-Jen Liu's daughter, Jenny, composed the following poem for her father's painting of lotuses in the winter season:
Winter arrives and pauses
Resplendent, pure and white
The lotus retreats
Under a blanket of snow
Searching roots reach deeper growth
Master Turtle meditates
Taking a long breath
Inhaling this season’s gift of peace
In this painting, the lotus pond is covered by cold and heavy snow. The mountains in the back are white with frost. The lotuses are quiet and dormant, patiently waiting for spring's arrival. Their leaves are withered and porous. Meanwhile, a turtle silently watches the changing landscape and is lulled into hibernation. Together, the lotus and turtle welcome winter as a season for rest and peace. Chi-Jen Liu created this serene image to show the beauty of longevity and the necessity of taking respite as we age.
The turtle's reputation of living long and aging gracefully has made it into a universal symbol for longevity. In China, they have been prized for their restorative properties, and some traditional Chinese remedies include using turtles for food and medicine. Chi-Jen Liu has been a lifelong practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine and believes nature provides all the ingredients man needs for preventing bodily ailments. However, when outer means make no difference, it may be more effective to not eat but to emulate the turtle, and – to paraphrase his daughter's poem – take a long breath, meditate and inhale peace, instead.
Before devoting himself full-time to an artistic career, Chi-Jen Liu cultivated over 55 years of feng shui wisdom and Taoist practices. Today, he continues to inspire people from all walks of life by expounding his philosophy through his art and poetry.
In Buddhism, the lotus is the symbol of enlightenment and the peace that comes from reaching higher states of consciousness. Deities in China and India are often portrayed sitting or standing on giant lotuses. The flower serves as a pedestal to symbolize the spiritual elevation of a divine personage. In India, chakras (centers of spiritual power in the human body) are referred to as lotuses. The chakra situated at the top of man's head is even described as the "thousand-petaled lotus." The lotus is an icon of the soul's purity and its unfoldment.
In 2013, Chi-Jen Liu painted a series of lotus plants in spring, summer, autumn and winter settings. These pieces were initiated as a gift to the eldest of his three daughters, Jenny, who requested lotus paintings in her home. These still-life landscapes portray the entire spectrum of growth, peace, change and tranquility of the four seasons. Each painting carries a blessing within its heart – each one is an expression of a father's hope for his children to grow and prosper.
With the exception of "Romantic Lotus," all the paintings in the "Lotus Series" are vertically structured. The significance of this format is highly functional. In order to truly flesh out the concept of the four seasons, Chi-Jen Liu visualized these paintings as windows that enable us to view an ever-changing ecosystem; it allowed him to capture the visible and the hidden layers that characterize the lotus' mysterious transformation. The mist above and the mud below, the alert dragonfly and the languid koi, the shedding petals and the falling snow... all these are interwoven into the artist's lotus universe. He paints these aspects with equal care and attention because they represent the various forces that sustain the lotus. What is revealed about the lotus also uncovers a truth about our own lives. The driving rhythm that awakens the dormant roots to bring forth new buds is the same kind of power that pulses in our hearts and inspires our minds to create anew. The cycle of activity and rest and activity again is the rhythm of life in this world.