Autumn is a season when nature begins to retire. Leaves fall and flowers fade. What was green and lush becomes dark and brittle. The lotus, too, sheds its dried petals and curls its leaves. Is it dying? It may seem to be, but the pulse of life inside the lotus continues to beat; its vitality has retreated into the seeds and roots. As a matter of fact, the lotus was originally grown as food and for medicinal purposes. Each part of the plant is edible and can be used to treat various gastrointestinal and blood related disorders. In China, lotus seeds are regarded as nutritious and rejuvenating for the body.
Artist Chi-Jen Liu reveals his background as a master of feng shui by the way he arranges the lotus leaves and seed heads to correspond with constellations. According to Taoist astrological texts, our planet is influenced by the stars and planetary alignments. To complete the cosmic analogy of lotuses as stars, he adds a golden glow around each head. When speaking about his work, he often refers to these kinds of patterns as "galaxies." He describes the ones in this piece as "health and longevity galaxies" which reflects the health-giving qualities of the lotus. In "Lotus Autumn," Chi-Jen Liu focuses on the benefits that can be found in seemingly bleak periods of life. Just as the lotus has so much to offer despite the season, there is always something useful to be found in challenging times.
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.