Celebrating nature in Chinese painting | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Teacher Ceasar Cheng (rightmost) with guests at his exhibit (from left) Armi Yam, Audie Gemora and Penk Ching
Teacher Ceasar Cheng (rightmost) with guests at his exhibit (from left) Armi Yam, Audie Gemora and Penk Ching

Artist-teacher Ceasar Cheng recently featured some of his works at the Solaire Resort & Casino, in an exhibit titled “Oriental Brushstrokes II,” and sponsored by Solaire and the Confucius Institute of the Ateneo de Manila University.

There were colorful paintings of eagles and peacocks, Spanish colonial churches, kalesa and fierce-looking dragons. Flowers of different kinds and colors were in evidence as well. One is bombarded with so many colors at Cheng’s exhibit, and the masterful brushstrokes give the paintings a lifelike quality.

“When I was in high school, I enrolled in summer courses. It was when Taiwan sent masters to the Philippines to teach traditional Chinese painting. After that I met my teacher, Master Hau Chiok, who taught me the Lingnan style of painting,” said Cheng.

Cheng alluded to the time in the 1960s when there were Chinese painting classes in Liberty Hall in Chinatown.

Cantonese school

But the style that really influenced Cheng was the Lingnan style, taught by Hau Chiok in the 1970s. Lingnan is a region south of Guangdong, and the style highlights nature and all the life within it. The Lingnan school is also sometimes called the Cantonese school of painting.

“The Lingnan style is a combination of Western and Eastern styles,” explained Cheng. “It is because the masters of the Lingnan style went to Japan, Europe and other places to study. So when they came back, they assimilated all those new styles in their artwork. Lingnan style is more colorful and lively. It’s very different from traditional Chinese painting.”

Cheng said that he has been leaning toward more Western aesthetics in his more recent works. “There’s one painting of the iris, inspired by a painting of Van Gogh’s.”

A beautiful painting of a Spanish colonial-era church and a “kalesa”—a unique subject for a Chinese-style painting

Art teacher

Cheng taught at the Confucius Institute, is a founding member of International Studies for Chinese Arts, Inc. and has held art workshops at Fully Booked in Taguig.

“When I teach, I really don’t tell my students what style they should adopt,” he said. “I just teach them the basics, and then I let them develop their own.”

Moving forward, Cheng confided that his students are creating a coffee-table book featuring his artworks. “I’m really excited about it. It will come out this year.” —CONTRIBUTED

Contact Ceasar Cheng at 09274186644, 2549291, or e-mail [email protected]