FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM FEBRUARY 3, 2022 • THE QUEENS COURIER 33
Flushing artist honors the Year of the Tiger with dynamic work
BY TAMMY SCILEPPI
It’s the Year of the Tiger! Be sure to
share joy and love during this festive time.
Chinese New Year falls on Tuesday, Feb. 1,
this year, and celebrations culminate with
the Lantern Festival on Feb. 15.
Artist and calligrapher Simon Zeng, a
longtime Flushing resident, has kept the
beloved traditions of his native land and
looks forward to another Lunar New Year.
He’s hoping it’s a lucky one.
“Th e dawn is ahead,” he said. “Th e Year
of the Tiger will come in a few days, and I
hope our world will recover to peace and
Since moving into his home studio in
Flushing almost 26 years ago, Zeng has
enjoyed living and working in that vibrant
Flushing artist Simon Zeng’s symbolic painting, “Tiger family,” as a
area, which reminds him of his childhood
tribute to the Year of the Tiger.
Photos courtesy of Simon Zeng
Flushing artist Simon Zeng spoke about celebrating the Year of the Tiger Queens-style with his family.
home in the historic town of Jinzhou
District of Dalian, in the Liaoning Province
of southern China.
As a tribute to each Chinese New Year,
the artist has been creating symbolic works
depicting diff erent animals. Describing his
dynamic creation for 2022 — a watercolor
painting titled “Tiger family” (brush,
ink, color on paper 27” x 27”) – Zeng said
the pattern on the tiger’s forehead constitutes
“a king character, which is a symbol of
majesty and power.”
“In Chinese legends, tigers are believed
to be extremely powerful animals that ward
off three major disasters in the family:
fi re, theft and evil,” Zeng explained. “Tiger
paintings are oft en hung on the wall facing
the gate, so that demons are afraid to
enter. Even in contemporary China, some
children wear tiger head hats and shoes to
ward off evil spirits, and some people sleep
on tiger head pillows to make themselves
stronger. In the Year of the Tiger, children
have the word ‘King’ written in red on their
heads, which seems to boost their energy
Zeng added, “People believe in mascots
very much, and tiger talismans and fl ags
painted with the shape of a tiger, are oft en
treasures to frighten the enemy. And people
will use the god Humen, to pray for blessings
and ward off evil spirits.”
Across Queens and the rest of New York
City, excited families, like Zeng’s, are getting
ready to celebrate a new year. Usually,
two fi sh dishes are prepared, one for dinner
and one for the next day (considered “surplus
for the new year”), for Chinese New
Year’s Eve, which falls on Jan. 31. And the
orange is one of the most popular Chinese
New Year foods.
When they meet during this happy time,
Chinese people greet one another with
lucky sayings and phrases to wish each
other health, wealth and good fortune.
“Gong hei fat choy” (a Cantonese saying
that delivers a wish of prosperity) is usually
spoken in Hong Kong, Guangdong
Province, and places nearby. Nowadays, you
can hear this greeting in many Chinatowns.
Young Simon was already painting and
writing calligraphy at age 12, learning the
ancient art forms passed down by the masters.
He even won national awards. But his
creativity was stifl ed.
“At that time, China was going
through a very tough phase when
people weren’t allowed to engage
with the traditional culture, and
a lot of books and artworks
were destroyed due to political
reasons,” Zeng recalled.
Like many Queens artists,
Zeng said his pandemic
experience has been quite
challenging. Yet it hasn’t
stopped him from doing
what he loves.
“I have been
staying home with
my family, my
children are taking classes
online, and many of
my art exhibitions have
been canceled,” he noted.
“But I created artworks
for more than a year,
praying every day that
the epidemic will disappear
Th ose paintings refl ect
the emotions he’s experienced
to Zeng, “Th e cats” is
inscribed with calligraphy,
meaning: “In the
summer of 2020, the
pandemic in the United
States is serious. I feel sad
“The Amaryllis” is
inscribed with calligraphy,
meaning: “Th e vaccine
was successfully invented during the
Christmas period of 2020, and is on its way.
I sincerely wish the vaccine to be delivered
smoothly, and human health and peace.”
Zeng hopes this mighty Year of the
Tiger brings better results.
“I sincerely hope that in this coming
Year of the Tiger, with the help of his powerful
implication, the pandemic will disappear
quickly, people will return to normal
life order, and the
world will be peaceful