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Thursday, July 22, 2010

'Illumination' exhibit combines art with activism

The Capital Times -

An oil painting on canvas, part of the 'Illumination' exhibit in the Capitol rotunda. Xiaoping Chen

A new art exhibit Downtown combines art with activism, attempting to call attention to a harsh governmental crackdown on a peaceful Chinese movement that has led some practitioners to flee the Communist country.

Falun gong (or falun dafa) is a meditation practice and spiritual movement focused on the principals of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. More than 10 years ago, because of the movement's wide and fast popularity, the Chinese government began repressing those who practiced falun gong, imprisoning them.

According to reports in The New York Times, some were held for years. Some were tortured; others died.

The persecution was "pretty gruesome," said Tim Gebhart, who helped to publicize the art exhibit. "And it's something the media doesn't know a lot about because it's so hard to get the information out of China."

"Zhen Shan Ren," a touring show on the second floor of the Capitol rotunda, reflects that persecution, as well as falun dafa's quieter, meditative moments (shown above). It features large-scale oil and watercolor paintings by 12 artists, most of whom are from China or have expatriated.

Kunlun Zhang, one of the artists showing work in the exhibit, was imprisoned in 2001.

The show is scheduled to tour throughout Wisconsin.


What: Zhen Shan Ren Art Exhibit: The Art of Truth, Compassion, Tolerance

Where:Second-floor rotunda, Capitol building, MADISON

When: Through Aug. 6


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