France: The Art of Zhen-Shan-Ren in the Town of Caen was “Absolutely Magnificent!”

International exhibition The Art of Zhen-Shan-Ren (Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance), which has been shown in over 40 countries, is now being shown in French towns. The first of these was Caen from April 19th to 23rd 2013 at the gallery Place des Arts.

The Art of Zhen-Shan-Ren is an extraordinarily touching and inspiring exhibition. The themes are the tragedy that is the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, as well as the depth of their spirituality. The exhibits are mainly oil paintings and Chinese pastel. Viewers are deeply touched as much by the high artistic quality of these works as by the expression of powerful reality and hope radiating from these paintings.

Véronique Le Madec:“The paintings are more than truthful”

The painter Véronique Le Madec found the exhibition “very touching” because “the pictures are more than truthful.” “Unfortunately, this kind of thing is still happening... as a human being I am very touched and as a painter, I already knew that I enjoyed freedom of speech but, this is much more than that.”

Véronique was especially attracted to the painting “Tears of grief and joy” where the painter gives his impression of the Last Judgement. “The whirlwind of colours! If I don't look at the detail of the picture, I only see the colour and the 'S' shape and that way I find the painting brimming over with hope. But in fact the story is exactly the opposite: if you go closer and see all the wretchedness in this painting, the artist has transformed it and he has got his message across through colour” explains Véronique.

“I'm very pleased to have come here, sincerely pleased, and I would really like to encourage people to come and to take their time in reading the narrative and not just be content with only looking at the picture, but to read all the little commentaries, that's very important. It is important to let the message behind the paintings be known”, concluded Véronique in a deeply moved tone of voice.

Bernard Zeller: “I have seldom seen such a forceful, powerful exhibition”

The painter Bernard Zeller was very touched by the forcefulness of the message of the Art of Zhen-Shan-Ren. “I believe I have seldom seen an exhibition as forceful, as powerful as this, in fact it's overwhelming. The paintings seem quite simple, you like the first pictures, they are easy to understand and then …...you find that it's more powerful than reality. The style is modern, but reminds one of tradition, it's overwhelming” he explained. “I discovered through this exhibition that people are persecuted for their belief. It is hard to acknowledge,” he added.

Valérie Huart: “Very moving, I still feel like crying”

The painting “Tears of grief and joy” struck many visitors and among them was Valérie Huart, town counsellor, painter and art teacher. “It's a wonderful painting and it explains everything, one is touched just by looking at it” she said. As for the pictures showing the persecution of the Falun Gong practitioners she said, “I wanted to cry at each of the pictures, each time I read the text and looked at the picture, it was so emotional; I still feel like crying.”

Annick Fijalkowski: “I am completely overcome”

Annick Fijalkowski explained, “I was very moved both by the beauty of the paintings and the horrors which are happening of which we know nothing. I just discovered that today, I didn't know about it before. It makes you want to cry, it's horrible, it must stop! It's serious! It's unbearable! I am completely overcome!” She was particularly attracted to the painting “Who am I?” because “it is a question we all ask ourselves, especially when growing older.” She added “In a way the world is very beautiful but there are too many horrible things too.”

Oksana Charlot: “Though the body is suffering, it still retains all it's beauty”

Oksana Charlot, an amateur painter who attended courses at the Academy of Arts of St. Petersburg in Russia, gave her impression of the techniques used in The Art of Zhen-Shan-Ren. “The minute I came in I spotted what I found interesting: the figurative and the realist paintings in the classical tradition. You seldom see interesting things in contemporary art these days.”

Oksana explained, “When coming to the exhibition I was interested in finding out how the artists, most of them Chinese, bring together this absolutely traditional approach to painting and the European approach. There is something here which speaks of another civilisation, another mythology, and because of this, what is implied in the paintings is different.”

Oksana spoke of her artistic understanding of the torture and other scenes of suffering saying: “You see that in a scene showing suffering, the suffering body has retained all its beauty. These models are drawn in the ancient classical style, the proportions are classical, no part of the body is deformed, all is smooth, one understands that this represents the victory of the spirit over torture, it's visible in the choice of forms, of light and shade.” Looking at the painting “Tragedy in China” she explains: “it's in the classical style, it's static, the overall picture is interesting with its modern clothes still intact, the woman suffering is beautiful in her suffering. What is being discussed here is the question of life and death, and it is treated with so much symbolism.”

The memory of this exhibition will certainly linger on in the minds of those who stepped through the doorway of the Gallery and discovered these paintings that fed into so many of the visitors' emotions. “Quite simply magnificent” was one of the messages left on the Visitor's book. Another message said, “A very moving exhibition because of the veracity of the subject.” Other people were grateful for the opportunity they had been given to learn about the repression of Falun Gong in China: “Thank you for wakening our consciences” and “Go on denouncing this horror.”

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