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Art, Family, and Chinese New Year

“The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of.” 

— Leonardo da Vinci

Last January 24, Saturday, the Atrium of SM North The Block in Quezon City was transformed into a sea of red as the Chan Lim family formally opened an exhibit of over 100 hand-painted lanterns by family members and students, in a showcase dubbed “A New Light of Prosperity: An exhibit launch of over 100 Chinese paintings on lanterns.”

The event is part of the Chinese New Year 2016 celebration of SM City North Edsa.

It was in 2014 when I became fully immersed in the world of feng shui, with help from international feng shui master Marites Allen. She taught me the basics of the ancient Chinese astrological practice, to help me understand the almanac and planner she released yearly, and how I could use the information for motivation and encouragement. 

Chan Lim holding one of his paintings

This particular Chinese lantern event was a delight to attend, because it delved into the world of visual art and a painting style I appreciated but never quite grasped. It had always felt so ancient, yet in the event I saw children picking up a Chinese paintbrush and putting together a bamboo work of art. I had taken my 13-year-old son Basti – who has an inclination towards visual arts – with me, and seeing him enjoy the demonstration and workshop made it even more worthwhile. 

Over 100 hand-painted lanterns by family members of Chan Lim and his students are currently on exhibit in the Atrium of SM North The Block in Quezon City

Chan Lim is the family patriarch, an artist who dabbled in Western art, and who specialized in oil and watercolor. His sons Alex, Felix, Rolex, and Jolex also took up the Chinese paintbrush, aside from pursuing careers in Engineering.

The event had the feel of a family gathering, and rightly so. Members of the Chan Lim family embraced all guests as “students,” and gave us –media and other guests from different walks of life, in all shapes and ages – an afternoon of Chinese art appreciation.

Chan Lim held a demonstration and workshop during the opening of his exhibit

“I’ve been doing this since I was 11 years old,” Alex told us, as he rolled up his sleeves to begin his demo. He finished a bamboo painting in less than a minute; a floral painting in less than three minutes; and a landscape painting in a little over five minutes.

“If you notice, my hand does not touch the table,” he said, as he made light, quick strokes with the brush that resulted in an artwork that seemed whimsical yet uncontrived – a simple yet beautiful take on nature and other things that surround us. Chinese paintings certainly present a different view of our environment.

Chan Lim demonstrating how to do a bamboo art 

To help us understand the significance of Chinese lanterns, here are some facts:

The use of paper lanterns began in ancient China, during the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Aside from Chinese painting, other crafts were used to create lantern art: cutting, pricking, and seaming.

Monks then used lanterns on the 12th day of the first lunar month, in worship of Buddha. Emperor Liu Zhang of the Eastern Han Dynasty was a Buddhist.

During the Tang Dynasty, people made lanterns to celebrate peace.

Chinese lantern art is also meant to represent prosperity, strength, and power.

So what is the relationship between Chinese lanterns and feng shui?

Red lanterns symbolize fertility. Some people believe in hanging them on either side of the bed or directly above the bed.

Lanterns bring positive energy. What direction or area is your luck in this year? Hang a lantern there.

Lanterns symbolize harmony. Married couples can light them in pairs and hang them on either side of their bed. Never light just one!

Lanterns symbolize luck. Ring in the Year of the Fire Monkey by hanging lanterns in your home or office, especially doorways.

The Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students will hold their exhibit until February 11. To learn more about their art classes and exhibits, visit chanlim.com or email chanlim@yahoo.com.

Other events at SM North The Block lined up for Chinese New Year are Oriental Classics (Chinese classic musical performance) on January 30, 2:00 p.m.; Chinese Wushu Arts (exhibition of traditional Chinese martial arts) on January 31, 5:00 p.m.; Chinese Arts in Letters Calligraphy Workshop (the art of Chinese callighraphy) on February 6, 2:00 p.m.; Astrological Forecast with Marites Allen (intimate gathering with the international feng shui master) on February 7, 5:00 p.m.; Chinese Court and Folk Dances (traditional dance to bring good fortune) on February 8, 2:00 p.m.

Chinese New Year falls on February 8, Monday.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @kaimagsanoc

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