The lotus has been depicted in eastern art for thousands of years. In the west, the rose is generously featured in paintings, embroidery and decorative items; similarly, the lotus is a common motif in ancient architecture, textiles and scrolls. The rose is widely accepted as a symbol of love. Different colors denote different degrees of love. For example, red roses represent passionate love, yellow roses represent friendship and white ones represent pure love. The lotus, however, has always represented spiritual devotion, which is another kind of love.
In this particular painting, Chi-Jen Liu gives the lotus qualities that are usually associated with the rose, hence the title, "Romantic Lotus." Blossoms embrace each other at the stems and blush with pink and red. Pillowy leaves laden with pearly dewdrops resemble luxurious gifts from a lover. The artist creates an atmosphere that is intimate and feminine by planting the lotuses in soft pastel-like water. Two dragonflies perch on lotus buds to symbolize first love; a pair of red koi meet under a lotus leaf canopy to symbolize marital love; and tadpoles gather nearby to symbolize family love. Even the lotus stems are given rose-like thorns.
The season of this lotus piece is spring. In literary terms, springtime is the early stage or the beginning of a phase. The poem asks, "When you behold such a romantic scene, does a smile not cross your lips as you relive your first love? Falling in love is a most splendid dream of romance." Chi-Jen Liu nudges us to remember the first time we fell in love because holding onto sweet memories are important to our happiness and relationships.
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.