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When I was in high school I saw a collotype from the 1930s of Song dynasty paintings at a friend’s house. One of the pictures was of a lotus flower painted onto a fan by Huang Quan, an ancient bird and flower painter in the period of five Dynasties and Ten Reigns(AD 907-960) in China. The image was clean, elegant and refined. Through the dabs of ink, the flower petals unfolded in a charming and elegant way with beautiful lines. The seedpod at the center was solid and strong, with plump, voluptuous seeds, and the stamen was intricate and full of life. Though the painting was small, it moved me no less than Song Dynasty painter Fan Kuan’s masterpieces Travelers amid Mountains and Streams or Forest Snowscape. In my second year in college I travelled to see the Longmen Grottoes in the city of Luoyang. There, relief lotus patterns were laid into the roof of the cave, rich, smooth and powerful, striking me once again.

Later, I read Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis by Japanese Zen Master D. T. Suzuki, and I found inspiration: “When a painter paints a flower, he must imagine that flower blooming in his subconscious. It is a new flower, not a copy of nature.” In my notes, I recorded my mindset towards creating the lotuses at the time: “It’s been over a year, and I’ve made five pieces. From the initial impulsiveness to deep, microscopic observation and depiction and on to focusing on the overall living form of the flower, I still feel that what I want to express goes far beyond this. I think that this series is a process of soul-cleansing and sublimation: at first, I passed through the surface appearance and entered deep inside, planting seeds in my heart and then forgetting materiality until I became one with the lotus, blooming together in the celestial abyss.”


Lotus No.5
by Chen qi
Water Print
64×64cm
1993



Lotus No.8
by Chen qi
Water Print
20 Editions
73×89cm
1994



Lotus No.9
by Chen qi
Water Print
73.5×86.5cm
1994

Lotus No.16
by Chen qi
Water Print
100×64cm
1996


Lotus Dance
by Chen qi
Water Print
147×147cm
1999