The lotus plant thrives in full sun and warmer temperatures and reaches its peak foliage during summer. It is an aquatic plant which starts as a humble seed under muddy waters. Once the seed germinates, the young shoot reaches toward the surface in search of sunlight. As it grows upward, it also develops roots. Gradually, the lotus rises from the dark depths and emerges as a pristine bud above the water's surface. Being born in darkness and blossoming in the light is why the flower of the lotus is seen as a symbol of spiritual evolution in eastern cultures.
Chi-Jen Liu celebrates the lotus at its height of growth in "Lotus Summer." He embellishes the lotus scenery with symbols to underline the message of blessings for the viewer. In Chinese culture, red fish are auspicious symbols for prosperity and the butterfly is a symbol of marital harmony. To clarify the summer theme, he illustrates the preceding season with pink spring lotuses at the bottom of the piece, and autumn's approach with dried lotus leaves at the top. Chi-Jen Liu's perspective of the past, present and future allows us to glimpse into the life cycle of these flowers.
According to Taoist astrological texts, our planet is influenced by the stars and planetary alignments. Chi-Jen Liu does not hide his background as a master of feng shui by the way he patterns the wilted autumn leaves and new spring blossoms in specific configurations. Their placement is far from random – they are constellations! He adds a golden glow around each lotus to complete their cosmic analogy. He refers to these patterns as "galaxies" and describes, "Galaxies promote prosperity. Summer brings happiness." Artist Chi-Jen Liu continues to teach the feng shui philosophy that man's lasting success and well-being is dependent on his ability to live in harmony with the laws – and cycles – of nature.
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.