Art exhibition inspired by Buddhist bracelets

Yu Chen’s Meditation exhibition is inspired by Buddhist bracelets. PHOTO: COURTESY OF YU CHEN

A Chinese artist living in Calgary is currently presenting a solo exhibition of oil paintings inspired by Buddhist bracelets from her culture.

With meditation, Yu Chen drew inspiration from her mother, who is a Buddhist and regularly wore bracelets to embrace positive energy.

“She would also ask me to wear some of the bracelets because she thinks it will bring me good fortune and bring me luck and also eliminate [the] bad energy that is around me.

Chen knew she wanted her first exhibition to feature oil paintings of Buddhist bracelets, due to the positive connotations associated with the object.

“It’s like people say, when you [are] always surrounded by these positive energies, it will improve you as a person mentally, then also physically.

When Chen left China in 2015 to attend an art school in the United States, his mother couldn’t make it as well and gave him a Buddhist bracelet as a symbol of love and protection.

“She had never been to the States, so she wanted me to stay healthy and safe when I’m not home, and it’s also her way of saying I love you.”

For an oil painting assignment, Chen’s teacher asked her to paint something she saw in her life every day.

“A lot of people were picking different things, like flowers or they were picking brushes or other things,” Chen said. “I decided to make my bracelet because I thought it was quite a unique item to make.”

Chen first painted a Buddhist bracelet when her teacher asked her to paint something she saw every day. PHOTO: COURTESY OF YU CHEN

When Chen moved to Calgary in 2017, she hoped to create and share art with others, but the pandemic and her tourist visa have made it difficult to attend an art exhibition for the past three years.

After gaining permanent resident status last year, she was more than ready to share her artwork. While scrolling through Instagram, she came across the Alberta Society of Artists call for artists and decided to put her work in the gallery.

“It’s also very nice that my work is finally there, and not in the basement collecting dust. And also, after the gallery opened, it made me feel good that it there are so many people who love my art and love the idea that I have.

Some of the bracelets Chen has painted include patterns and beads selected by her mother, and her art stands out for its hyper-realistic quality.

“I remember when I was little, I would go to a gallery and then [stare] to a realistic painting myself for a long time, and then that’s what I also want for others when they see my painting.

Chen’s paintings have a hyper-realistic quality. PHOTO: COURTESY OF YU CHEN

Alberta Society of Artists program coordinator Kathleen Jessiman says Chen’s work is notable for its attention to detail, and viewers have enjoyed seeing a collection of oil paintings that follow a cohesive theme.

“I would say the reception has been really, really positive. There’s been a lot of interest from various people,” says Jessiman. Asian heritage, and a lot of them, I think, really enjoy seeing celebrations of their culture.”

Buddhist bracelets are meant to bring good luck to the wearer, and Chen wants his paintings to bring similar positive emotions to viewers.

“I hope they feel calm, I hope they feel safe.”

Chen’s hopes for people viewing her art also reflect how she felt when setting up the exhibition.

“I personally think the process of making these paintings is my way of meditating. It really calms me down. »

The Meditation Art exhibit can be viewed at the Alberta Society of Artists Gallery until August 20, 2022.

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