The colours of feng shui

Art January 15, 2018 01:00

By KUPLUTHAI PUNGKANON
THE NATION

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Renowned artist Yun Long Zi brings his amazing collection of paintings rendered in gold, silver, and gemstones to Bangkok



IN AN INCREASINGLY uncertain world, a home that’s a haven of peace and prosperity is important to us all and, for many, that means turning to the traditional beliefs of feng shui. This ancient Chinese philosophy is not just about spatial arrangement, though, but is also applicable to art. 

And now there’s a chance to see the very best of that art as renowned Singaporean feng shui master, Yun Long Zi, is showcasing 108 of his works worth a staggering Bt1 billion in an exhibition running at the Emporium shopping complex from Thursday through next Sunday. 

Organised in collaboration with United Overseas Bank (UOB), “Colours of Prosperity and Elegance: The Feng Shui Art of Emeritus Master Yun and Lotus on Water” is part of what Yun calls “Celebrationism”, a movement that celebrates his work. 

“The unifying quality of my art is that it celebrates all things worth celebrating, from health to wealth, and from relationships to prosperity. I focus on the positive energies and elements that I can draw on, such as love, joy, peace and hope. 

“These are the subject matter that my art symbolises. Each piece is rendered in prized materials such as 18K and 24K pure gold and silver and infused with my inspiration of bringing prosperity and good fortune to people. I call them this subject matters ‘Heavenly Time’, ‘Earthly Resources’ and ‘Human Will’ and they are represented by outstanding characteristics. For example, the paintings change as day moves into night with phosphorescent paint that glows and comes alive in UV light,” says Yun, founder of the Lotus on Water Gallery. 

Yun comes from a long time of feng shui masters and has absorbed the knowledge passed down by five generations of his family. His inclination towards Chinese and Western arts started at an early age and his work won him the Singapore Youth Festival art exhibition in his teens. He graduated top of the NTU School of Arts and School of Science with first-class honours in Chinese language and cultural studies and also won the Dr Wu Teh Yao Book Prize.

“There are as many as 18 layers on a single painting, eight at the very least. I use gold, silver, copper, minerals and precious stones to create colours. All these mean prosperity. 

“Gold is a wonderful material. It doesn’t change colour even if you put it in the sun. When you put in the fire, it doesn’t reduce in weight, and when you put through water it does not rust. These are the unique qualities of real gold,” he says.

“Silver has the beneficial effect of killing bacteria. For example, when you put the milk in a silver cup, it will not spoil so easily. So it is about preservation. Prosperity is temporary, so you want it to last as long as possible and travel through the generations. That’s why we use silver. 

“The peacock is about elegance. I think it is an animal from heaven. It has beautiful, big and heavy feathers, and that makes it difficult for the bird to run away from danger or to find food. It is the kind of animal that should not last but it does and gloriously too. I use the peacock in my painting to represent the glorious life, a being that God protects. When you look at the painting in the daytime you see a peacock. At night, when you turn on the UV light, it looks like the planet and the galaxy. So it tells us the truth of the universe. The universe follows the laws of attraction. The earth moves around the sun because the earth is attracted to the sun, and the moon revolves around the earth also because of attraction. When you have the energy of attraction, you attract all the good things into your life – in other words, prosperity. That’s the feng shui power,” Yun explains.

While some of his paintings are rendered on Chinese rice paper, many of those displayed in this exhibition are painted on a special paper known as dong ba. This, he says, is s handmade by tribal shamans using herbs from mountain ranges. Dong ba paper is believed to be sacred and can last for more than 1,000 years. His paintings are also crowned by precious natural elements such the gold and silver already mentioned plus bronze and natural vermilion ink. The latter is believed to be effective in warding off evil while bringing to life good wishes conveyed from the symbols in the paintings. 

His images celebrate the best of nature’s wonderful palette and in all its magical glory, from flora to fauna – peacocks, cranes, cranes, Hulu plants, eagles and his signature peonies, as well as vistas and landscapes that encompass the smallest of creatures and the precious lives they lead. 

His sculptures of Guan Yin and the Buddha are hand-sculpted from crystal. 

“My grandfather is a poet, and a calligrapher. He wrote classical poetry. He told me I should not write classical poem, I asked him why. He replied, ‘who is going to understand it, you are writing something that cannot touch people, where is the relevance? It has no use’. 

We have to preserve our traditions but tradition can only last forever when it is relevant to modern people. I feel that we have to ask ourselves, why do we want to do this? Why do we do feng shui for people to become richer, more prosperous, more elegant, become respected or win love? But if that what people need and want, we have to preserve that. And then we have to translate it so that it is relevant to modern people. So we have to adapt while keeping the essence, the beauty, and the spirit of the past. It must still bring prosperity and elegance and must help people achieve good relationships, wealth or become famous,” he |says.