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Zhen Shan Ren Art Exhibit Comes to Ottawa

By Kathy Gillis Created: January 17, 2013 Last Updated: January 18, 2013
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Visitors view the paintings at the Art of Zhen, Shan, Ren International Exhibition at city hall in Barrie, Ontario, in December 2012. (Ben Lee)

Visitors view the paintings at the Art of Zhen, Shan, Ren International Exhibition at city hall in Barrie, Ontario, in December 2012. (Ben Lee)

The Art of Zhen, Shan, Ren International Exhibition, which has been seen all over the world—50 countries with 500 exhibitions in all—will show in Ottawa over five days early next month.

The works portray the experiences, vision, and hope of Falun Gong practitioners as they attempt to safeguard justice and peace while upholding their values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance (Zhen Shan Ren). 

In July 1999 Falun Gong was banned in China, and since then many thousands of practitioners have been tortured or killed in an effort to “transform” them and make them give up their faith. Part of the exhibition deals with the terrifying ordeals the practitioners have gone through.

In her article “The Rebirth of Art in the New Millennium,” Xia T’ao wrote:

“On the walls of this unique exhibition, not only do we see an empowering realism, we see, to our greatest amazement sometimes, the visual horizon reaching upward, until it reaches the heavenly abode, the Gods and their splendid messengers. 

“At the same time, from the opposite direction, these artists delve deep into the heart of darkness, to a forbidden reality hidden away from the sun.” 

There are 26 “stories” depicted in the works. Some speak of visionary experiences or of the day-to-day work of raising awareness on the street, trying to awaken passersby to an ongoing horror. 

Some go behind the scenes to the seemingly mundane work of preparing a banner, while others show the reality of the persecution in China, the orphans left behind, the torture, as well as the dignity and bravery of Falun gong practitioners’ nonviolent resistance. 

To do this the artists have stepped outside of themselves and their egos in order to express clearly what they want viewers to understand. Some of the artists have themselves experienced torture and brainwashing in China. But in painting through their tears, all of the artists have had new insights. 

Viewers have shown their deep understanding of the art by their comments, often simply stated. Some have spoken of the stories behind the paintings and the preciousness of the divine nature expressed in the work, while others have talked about the sadness combined with all the bright hope. 

The exhibition will run Feb. 5–10 in the Kildare Room of Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts.

On opening night, Feb. 5, there will be an informal viewing of the works at 7–9 p.m., and everyone is welcome to come and meet the local volunteers who have brought this inspiring exhibition to Ottawa.

Kathy Gillis is an artist living in Ottawa whose work will be among the artworks shown in the Art of Zhen, Shan, Ren International Exhibition.

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