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Beauty in Forbearance

Art exhibit tells the story of Falun Gong

By Elaine Teguibon Created: December 13, 2012 Last Updated: January 18, 2013
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“Courage Amidst Adversity: The Call of Innocence,” by Xiaoping Chen, 2005. (Falun Dafa Artists Centre)

“Courage Amidst Adversity: The Call of Innocence,” by Xiaoping Chen, 2005. (Falun Dafa Artists Centre)

An art exhibition depicting the evolution, eventual persecution, and transcendence of the practice of Falun Gong in China and around the world has just opened at city hall in Barrie, Ontario.

The Art of Zhen Shan Ren (Truth, Compassion, Tolerance) International Exhibition has held over 500 showings in 50 countries around the world and has been widely acclaimed for both the skill of the artists and the subject matter of the artwork.

The works poetically refer to the beauty of life lived in keeping with a higher order while depicting the grim realities of the cruel persecution that Falun Gong has faced at the hands of China’s communist regime.

Visitors to this exhibit will be impacted by this cultural experience, resulting in a broadened sense of the world around them. Barrie MP Patrick Brown

The artists use Western, classical oil painting techniques which some call Neo-Renaissance. The exhibit includes classical Chinese motifs and work originally done in watercolours and on silk and paper.

A subset of 23 paintings covers six different themes: Arrival of the Lord Buddha; The Joy of Cultivation; Persecution in China; Nonviolent Resistance; Karmic Retribution; and Salvation -- Buddha’s Infinite Grace. Each painting tells a story.

A major aspect of both Eastern and Western traditions of representational art in the past was the depiction of gods and deities. Some of the works in the Art of Zhen Shan Ren exhibition return to these subjects.

In the collaborative painting “Fulfilling Vows” by Chen Xiaoping, Dong Xiquiang, and Tinguin Shi, numerous divine beings descend from heaven to the human world to fulfill their vows.

Li Yuan’s “A Tragedy in China” depicts a wife weeping beside her husband who has been tortured to death at a brainwashing centre in China. He holds in his hand a document that the authorities tried to force him to sign defaming Falun Gong.

Artist Kathleen Gillis speaks at the opening of the Zhen Shan Ren art exhibit in Barrie, Ontario. (Ben Lee)

Artist Kathleen Gillis speaks at the opening of the Zhen Shan Ren art exhibit in Barrie, Ontario. (Ben Lee)

Kathleen Gillis, one of three Canadian artists whose work is shown in the exhibition, was present at the opening ceremony on Dec. 6.

A former art teacher and professional artist, in 2003 she began to devote her entire time to creating works for the Art of Zhen Shan Ren. In her painting “Manhattan Meditator,” a young figure in the foreground radiates an unusual sense of groundedness that defies her noisy surroundings—a midday Manhattan sidewalk.

The works depict a vision of the world, the artists’ own firsthand experiences, and what it means to be spiritual aspirants who seek to embody and perfect the virtues of truth, compassion, and tolerance.

“This exhibit is presented with a mission to bring awareness to the plight of Falun Gong practitioners and spiritually inspire those with appreciation for truth, compassion and tolerance throughout the world,” wrote Barrie MP Patrick Brown in a letter of congratulations to the artists and exhibit coordinators.

Visitors view some of the paintings at the Zhen Shan Ren art exhibition. (Ben Lee)

Visitors view some of the paintings at the Zhen Shan Ren art exhibition. (Ben Lee)

“Visitors to this exhibit will be impacted by this cultural experience, resulting in a broadened sense of the world around them.”

Being held in a public space rather than a private gallery enables the exhibition to reach a broader range of the community, drawing people in with the striking vividness of the paintings.

Because of the content of the work, Falun Gong practitioners are present in the gallery to give tours and answer questions.

The exhibition will run until Dec 27 at the City Hall of Barrie. Please call 705-739-4204 in advance to confirm gallery space is open to the public.

Elaine Teguibon M.Ed is an artist, musician, and educator.

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