Silk and wooden fans with exquisite hand paintings by the Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students brought a whiff of artful air at SM City East Ortigas a couple of weeks ago.
The recently concluded exhibition is part of the SM Supermall’s nationwide mid-autumn celebration. Considered as the next biggest occasion after Chinese New Year, this year’s mid-autumn festival officially happens on October 1 to 8.
Painted Chinese fans date back to 3,000 years ago and continue to thrive today as a traditional art form.
The Chan Lim artists, led by its patriarch Jose and son Alex Chan Lim, have made it an advocacy of sorts to create appreciation for the fine art of Chinese brush painting in particular, and the rich Chinese culture in general. Father and son, along with Alex’s brothers Felix, Rolex, and Jolex, have been holding arts shows in various venues across the country, and even abroad, for almost two decades now.
This year marks an important milestone for the family as well as it is the 80th birthday of their patriarch Chan Lim, a recognized master artist in the community. Fondly referred to as Angkong by his students, Chan Lim is considered a pioneer in promoting Chinese brush painting in the country.
Alex, on the other hand, works as country manager for an international financial services and communications company on weekdays. But his and his family’s weekends are dedicated to teaching Chinese brush painting at their family’s home studio.
These sessions—attended by budding artists, professionals who yearn to pursue their art dreams, and simply stressed out urban dwellers searching for a creative outlet—tend to be light and fun. There’s a lot of snacking in between courtesy of generous students. But there’s also a lot of learning, thanks to Alex and his father’s patience, encouraging words, and personalized way of teaching the techniques and finer points of the art form. As Alex says it, the light learning atmosphere makes it better for their students to appreciate Chinese brush painting.
Of course, the final proof is when the Chan Lim family and their students unite to mount their beautiful artworks through the mall exhibitions they mount every year.
Each exhibit has something new to delight and impress mall goers. In one exhibition, it’s all scrolls and fanciful Chinese lanterns. Another time, it’s all about paintings on ceramic plates.
Alex noted in an interview with InterAksyon, “We always make sure there’s something new for the viewing public. Each exhibit is planned with so many details and the artworks are carefully chosen. For us, Innovation is a must so we always launch something different and continue to raise the bar.”
And with the continued support of SM Supermalls, the Chan Lim exhibits have become even more delightful as SM’s creative team always manage to come out with equally exciting staging designs. At this exhibit, for instance, a huge red fan becomes part of the display shelves for the artworks. In a past show, a huge red Chinese-style pergola served as a stage for hanging the artists’ painted lanterns.
At the exhibit, the fans painted on by students were very attractive. Subjects were based on the students’ preference be it flowers, animals associated with the Chinese zodiac sign, or waterscapes and landscapes. Even those who have only been attending for one cycle (about eight sessions) before the exhibit have at least one or two striking paintings to contribute to the exhibit.
Not to be missed were works by longtime Chan Lim students who have already refined their Chinese brush painting skills and evolved as serious artists.
Besides his thriving corporate life, Alex said teaching and mounting art shows for the public to enjoy are his calling as well, “As an art teacher, the opportunity to balance my life after work is one thing that I enjoy. It continues to raise the bar on my creative thinking. My training in the corporate world also helps when mounting these art exhibits and ensures everything we do has a system in place.
“As for the Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students, the most enjoyable part is the opportunity to be with three generations of people. The ideas that come out and what we can do as a group is limitless.”
Alex shares the Chan Lim’s source of inspiration: “The family has always believed in sharing and giving back to the community. We do this by going around the country sharing our artwork and conducting free painting workshops.”
The Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students has also mounted a show and free workshop in SM Davao and has an ongoing show at SM City General Santos till October 15.