‘New Renaissance’ Art
By Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Staff
|Exhibition at the Alex Gallery in Washington, D.C. Leonhardt said the images the paintings evoke “are just very beautiful and very striking.” (Wu Wei/ New Tang Dynasty Television)|
WASHINGTON—The Art of Zhen, Shan, Ren International Exhibition, consisting of 36 works by six award-winning artists, has a historical mission, says its founder, painter and sculptor Zhang Kunlun.
Professor Kunlun Zhang, from Ottawa, Canada, has exhibited widely in China and abroad and was former Director of the Institute of Sculpture at the Institute of Art in Shandong. He says the painters in the Zhen-Shan-Ren International Exhibition play a role “in raising human morality and in awakening people’s conscience.”
Zhang says that audiences express “great shock as well as high acclaim” upon viewing the exhibit. “We are very grateful to the audiences for their affirmation and encouragement of our work.”
The Zhen-Shan-Ren (Truth, Compassion, Tolerance) International Exhibition is currently on display for the month of December at the Alex Gallery in Washington, D.C. This exhibit by Falun Gong artists has toured more than 50 countries worldwide and has been on display more than 500 times, since its debut in 2004.
Painting with Heart
What is especially notable in this exhibit is that the artists are meditators. They will tell you that the progress they make in their spiritual pursuits affects their creativity.
Consider an oil painting by Xiaoping Chen from Vancouver, Canada “In Harmony.” It depicts the artist practicing the sitting meditation exercise—the 5th Falun Gong exercise. It shows Chen by the sea in a meditative state while four cultivated infants (celestial beings) play amidst a powerful energy field above her head, extending to the heavens.
“I think for a painting to really have power to reach people, I have to be touched and compelled to paint it with all my heart,” said Chen about the exhibition in a video on YouTube.
Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a spiritual self-cultivation practice of mind and body. Falun Dafa teaches that Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance (Chinese: Zhen, Shan, Ren) are the most fundamental qualities of the universe, and takes them to be a guide for daily life and practice. The name of the exhibit is derived from the core teaching of Falun Dafa.
Zhang says the art works in the exhibition are representative of the artists’ stage of “cultivation.” Zhang says the “entire creative process is a veritable cultivation practice.”
Zhang explains that purity of the heart and purity of the art work has a symbiotic relationship, so that as one elevates, so does the other.
“However calm the mind, however detailed and delicate the work will be,” he says.
Beauty and purity is certainly evident in the masterful sculpture of Zhang’s. The exhibit shows his sculpture, “Buddha,” in a photograph.
Growing up in atheistic communist China, his life course changed when he began to practice Falun Dafa and became aware of the “mysteries of nature and life,” according notes provided concerning the artists. The image Zhang created, indeed, appears to be one of a Buddha, a divine Being whom Zhang reveres.
Zhang says that the person has to emerge before the artist. Kathleen Gillis, an artist from Ottawa, Canada, expressed the same idea as follows: “We want to give people something that is pure and clean. In order to do that, we have to look inside ourselves all the time”
Zhang says that all the paintings in the exhibition use “traditional realism techniques, because that technique was divinely bestowed on humans.” He approves the term “New Renaissance” that visitors to the exhibit wrote in a guest book at one of the exhibit’s venues. “We can say that “New Renaissance” is appropriate because once again we are returning to the bright artistic path that God has pointed out to us.”
The realism in the paintings is not the type that can be captured in a photograph. The paintings exude a kind of light—warm, pure, and protective—made visible through the artist’s “cultivation.”
An oil painting by Xiaoping Chen exemplifies the use of warm light. The painting, “Lotus Lantern” shows a young woman holding a lotus lantern in meditation, with the light shining intensely on her face. The serenity of the practitioner bathed in light is contrasted with scenes below of darkness and brutal persecution.
The practitioners of Falun Dafa have been persecuted on mainland China for more than 12 years.
An oil painting by Yuan Li from Tokyo provides an artistic rendering of the persecution. Named “A Tragedy in China,” it shows a resolute woman weeping for her dead husband, who was tortured to death at a communist brainwashing center. His tortured body lies horizontal as his wife sits up straight beside it. The dead practitioner’s feet are still shackled, and he holds in his hand a document. It was a pledge to renounce his belief in Falun Dafa which he refused to sign.
Another painting by Chen, “The Call of Innocence,” shows a young girl in a rainy Manhattan sky, confront the viewer. With penetrative eyes she looks at you with the message, “Killed for their belief,” which is printed on a placard that she holds with both her hands. During the winter of 2005, practitioners coming to New York City endured the elements to raise awareness of the torture and murder of practitioners.
There is still a little time left to see The Zhen-Shan-Ren International Art Exhibition, which ends on Dec. 30, 2011. Alex Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m. Alex Gallery is located at 2106 R Street, Washington, D.C. 20008.
For more information, call 202-667-2599. A second Zhen-Shan-Ren exhibition is scheduled in the spring, May 8-June 8, 2012, at the Edison Place Gallery (near D.C. Chinatown).
With reporting by Theresa Hung