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It all began with a lucky coin

ELIZABETH Anne “Lizanne” C. Uychaco was five years old when she got sick and had to stop kindergarten. Her family consulted a feng shui master who gave her a lucky charm to help her recover and grant prosperity.

“We came to this feng shui master… who gave me this coin and told me it is a ‘magic coin’,” Ms. Uychaco recalled. “‘You would be well. You will be lucky. You will be rich.’ At that time, I didn’t know what ‘rich’ meant.”

“I wore it all my life. And I really got well. Since then, I haven’t been sickly,” she said.

The same coin later became the signature symbol of the Filipino-Chinese visual artist’s works.

The current Senior Vice-President of SM Investments Corp., Ms. Uychaco is an active artist under Art the Elements Asian Gallery. She held her first solo exhibition, “Heaven and Earth” in June 2019 at Conrad Manila’s Gallery C. Her work was first launched in 1993 when the Ayala Museum included her in a “discovery” series.

Most of her works are mixed media, owing to her lifelong training in sculpture, pottery, jewelry-making, silver craft, gold gilding, calligraphy, and painting in watercolor, oils, and acrylics.

This year, Ms. Uychaco will hold her 22nd exhibition as part of the Conrad Manila hotel’s Of Art and Wine: Colors of Prosperity series, which runs until March 18.

“We are delighted to usher in 2023 and the Year of the Rabbit with Lizanne’s vibrant Filipino-Chinese art pieces that echoes tradition, family, and positivity,” Conrad Manila’s general manager Fabio Berto said in a speech at the exhibit’s launch on Jan. 11. “Our commitment in sharing the light and warmth of hospitality through curated touches of luxury that are empowering and bold are echoed by Lizanne’s solo exhibit, her second with the hotel.”

Ms. Uychaco’s works feature a recurring symbol of an abstract coin. Originating in the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911), the metal coin is a symbol of luck, wealth, harmony, prosperity, and protection. Its round shape with a square void in the center represents heaven and earth, yin and yang which was the basis of the I-Ching, the circle of life, and the Zen of meditation. The coin is usually hung or displayed at the entrance of Chinese households for good fortune.

Her works are known to be minimalist and carry rich textures, with a focus on subjects that bring good luck, harmony, prosperity, wealth, and success. The 34 paintings in this exhibit, which took three years to complete, are grouped according to the elements as seen through their colors. Red represents fire, blue represents water, while the gold and silver represent metal.

Rich textures are a feature in her paintings Ancient Wisdom of Good Fortune, Long Life and Prosperity, Seals of Good Fortune, Long Life and Prosperity, and Opulence and Good Tidings.

The feng shui coin is incorporated in images of horses, money trees in different colors and settings, mountains, and sometimes a blend of Filipino and Chinese culture.

The paintings Earth’s Blessings and Eternal Flame feature the feng shui coin and miniature bulul (granary gods) which she had collected.

In her work titled Perennial Bliss, Ms. Uychaco used a purple, blue and green color story for a mountain landscape with the feng shui coin serving as the sun or moon, to depict serenity.

She said that while she travels, the landscapes she makes are not based specific locations but painted while in her studio.

“When you’re painting, you’re the boss. You choose the colors and anything you like. It’s a very good retreat,” Ms. Uychaco told members of the press during the exhibit launch.

While the original feng shui coin Ms. Uychaco received in her youth has corroded, she continues to collect them when she travels and keep the ones given to her as gifts.

“If you know that this (the artworks) is a symbol of success, you know that when you look at it it’s like you’re meditating on success,” Ms. Uychaco said.

“So, when you see positive things and things that bring good luck, it somehow it also affects your being. It brings you to that fold, you attract it,” she said.

Of Art and Wine: Colors of Prosperity by Lizanne Uychaco is on view until March 18. For inquiries on the artworks, call Conrad Manila at 8833-9999 or Art Elements Asian Gallery at 0917-957-7005 or e-mail conradmanila@conradhotels.com. The paintings’ prices range from P68,888 to P999,888. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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