"Elephants and Sun"
In the painting, "Elephants and Sun," Chi-Jen Liu captures a ceremonial atmosphere: a male and a female elephant meet under a pagoda, each donning a lotus on its head. The lotus here symbolizes their intelligence and purity. Their gentle gazes portray the peace of this auspicious event when the forest's energies are harmonizing with the cosmos. The elephant pair seem to merge into the mountain face as if to emboss their spirits upon this blessed moment. In East Asia, elephants are highly regarded as tolerant, patient, and wise creatures. Their inherent strength, good memory, and protective instincts have earned them an elite stature in the animal kingdom.
The entire landscape is made of yin and yang elements. For example, the valleys are considered yin because they are deep and soft, whereas the mountains are yang because they are tall and solid. The waterfalls are yin because they are cooling and descending, and in contrast, the pagoda is yang because it rises toward the sun. The pagoda is a symbol of academic and career achievement. In feng shui, pagodas are placed in the homes and offices of ambitious students and entrepreneurs to attract energy for scholarship and success. Chi-Jen Liu suspends celestial constellations around the pagoda and draws mantra charms on each tier to summon blessings for fame and power.
Trees make the forest; they symbolize life. Their hidden roots represent our culture, our ancestors, and the past experiences that define who we are today. Their outstretched branches represent our accomplishments, our children, and our hopes for the future. Flowering or fruit-bearing branches symbolize the beautiful qualities we have cultivated or the rewards of our efforts.
Many of the “Forest Series” paintings feature pines, palms, and bamboo. Pine trees are known to endure high altitudes, cold and dry climates, and in some cases, live to be over 1,000 years old! Hence, they symbolize rising above obstacles and longevity. Palm trees thrive in tropical and warm climates. They grow fast and tall – bending, but rarely breaking – so they convey growth and resilience. They also bear fruits like coconuts and dates, and provide welcome shade; so they denote fertility and peace as well. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. It is known for its versatile uses in the culinary arts, building materials, textiles, instruments and tools. Bamboo is highly regarded in feng shui. It is often placed in homes and offices to attract energy for good fortune.
Chi-Jen Liu includes the moon and the sun in almost all of his artworks. These cosmic icons represent nature’s balancing act of night and day. The moon carries feminine, or yin, energy; the sun embodies masculine, or yang, energy. Yin-yang is the fundamental concept behind Taoism. It is the dual quality of Mother Nature – dark and light, cool and warm, female and male – that permeates the world and sustains the cycles of creation.