HENNA POHJOLA
The Hidden Truth
9.9.2017 – 8.10.2017

Mother - Portrait of Liu Jirong, 2016
pencil on paper
229 x 149 cm

My exhibition is based on my research about the background of the Falun Gong persecution initiated in 1999 by the Chinese Communist Party.

Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a traditional Chinese spiritual practice of the mind and the body. It was first taught publicly by Li Hongzhi in 1992, and today it is practiced in about a hundred countries. The practice is free of charge and involves no religious formalities, worshipping or hierarchy. The essential part of the practice is to improve one´s thoughts and character by following three principles: Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance (in Chinese, Zhēn-Shàn-Rěn). In addition to its moral teachings, Falun Gong consists of four slow standing exercises and one sitting meditation.

Although the practice initially enjoyed considerable support from Chinese officialdom, soon after the mid-1990s the Communist Party started to view Falun Gong as a potential threat. This was due to its independence from the state and the huge number of its practitioners: by 1999, there were more than 70 million Falun Gong practitioners. On 30 November 1999, President Jiang Zemin gave the Chinese officialdom orders to destroy Falun Gong. The persecution has now lasted for 18 years, and millions of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners have been subject to human rights abuses.

The exhibition has seven large portrait drawings of Falun Gong practitioners living in Finland. In these portraits, I wanted to bring out their most essential characteristics by adding to them elements that work as distinctive signs leading the viewer's attention to the subjects´ personalities, thoughts and lives. In my works, I have analysed the significance of iconoclasm in the portrait genre: how a portrait can be such a strong symbol of a person´s status that its display is banned. My drawings contain references to the history of portrait art, such as human and spatial portraits of the Renaissance. They also contain text, which was already done in the 17th century portraits. The texts depict the practitioners' experiences of persecution.

In my works, I also analyse the destruction of traditional values and cultures, and in particular the ethical value questions of the Zhēn-Shàn-Rěn art and the approach that emphasises professional virtuosity and aesthetic goals. I have created the portraits with respect for the practitioners´ set of values.

In the background of my art is my human rights work with my partner Heikki Reponen to stop Falun Gong persecution in China. One of the narrative elements in the exhibition is his series of documentary photos about human rights work.

As another part of the exhibition I selected a documentary film called Human Harvest by the Vancouver-based filmmaker Leon Lee. Unfolding the story of Falun Gong persecution and forced organ donor transplants, the documentary has won several awards, such as the Peabody Award in 2014.

Henna Pohjola

Siirry sivun alkuun
pohjola/2017/Henna_Pohjola_Heshi_Liu_Yumein_muotokuva_2017_web

Heshi - Portrait of Liu Yumei, 2017
pencil and pastel on paper
249 x 144 cm

pohjola/2017/Henna_Pohjola_Heshi_Liu_Yumein_muotokuva_2017_detalji_web

Heshi - Portrait of Liu Yumei, detail, 2017
pencil and pastel on paper
249 x 144 cm

pohjola/2017/Henna_Pohjola_Heshi_Liu_Yumein_muotokuva_2017_detalji_1_web

Heshi - Portrait of Liu Yumei, detail, 2017
pencil and pastel on paper
249 x 144 cm

pohjola/2017/IMG_1401

Heshi - Portrait of Liu Yumei, detail, 2017
pencil and pastel on paper
249 x 144 cm

pohjola/2017/Henna_Pohjola_Jaleennakeminen_-Zhiping_Wun_ja_Luoxing_Zhun_muotokuva_2016_web

Reunion - Portrait of Zhiping Wu and Luoxin Zhu, 2016-17
pencil and coal on paper
242 x 145 cm

pohjola/2017/henna_pohjola_uusi_Janni-Shi

Free, Portrait of Shi Janni, 2017
pencil on paper
247 x 146 cm

pohjola/2017/Henna_pohjola_uusi_James-Shi

Falun Standing Stance, Portrait of Shi James, 2017
pencil on papaer
249 x 144 cm

pohjola/2017/Henna_Pohjola_Toinen_-kotimaa_Wang_-Jien_Gao_Lein_ja_Gao_Xinhui_Kristiinan_muotokuva_2017_web

Second Homeland - Portrait of Wang Jie, Gao Lei and Gao Xinhui Kristiina, 2017
pencil and pastel colour on paper
236 x 149 cm

pohjola/2017/Henna_Pohjola_Shansuihua_Oli_Xiaoyou_Man_muotokuva_2017_web

Shansuihua - Portrait of Oli Xiaoyou Ma, 2017
pencil, coal, pastel colour and gesso on paper
231 x 148 cm

pohjola/2017/IMG_1407

Detail, 2017

pohjola/2017/IMG_1363

Shansuihua - Portrait of Oli Xiaoyou Ma, 2017
pencil, coal, pastel colour and gesso on paper
231 x 148 cm

pohjola/2017/IMG_1334

The Hidden Truth, 2017
installation view

pohjola/2017/IMG_1212

The Hidden Truth, 2017
Installation view

pohjola/2017/IMG_1231

The Hidden Truth, 2017
Installation view

pohjola/2017/IMG_1206

The Hidden Truth, 2017
Installation view

pohjola/2017/IMG_1190

The Hidden Truth, 2017
Installation view

pohjola/2017/KutsukorttikuvaVarillinenCMYK_web

Heikki Reponen: With respect to the memory of the victims of the persecution of Falun Gong, 2017
Henna Pohjola, Zhiping Wu & Luoxin Zhu, Liu Jirong, Shi Janni & James, Liu Yumei, Wang Jie & Gao Lei, Gao Xinhui Kristiina

pohjola/2017/Heikki_Reponen_James_ja_Henna

Heikki Reponen: Shi James and Henna Pohjola in Helsinki, 2017
41 x 51 cm

pohjola/2017/Heikki_Reponen_Eliaksen_dokkari

Heikki Reponen:World Village Festival,Zhaohuan Jin (left), Zhaoyu Jin, Chen Zhenping, Henna Pohjola and Elias Outakivi, 2016
41 x 51 cm

pohjola/2017/Heikki_Reponen_New_York_033_Free2Meditate_2016

Heikki Reponen: Group meditation in New York, 2015
41 x 51 cm

pohjola/2017/IMG_1107

Installation view, 2017
Leon Lee: Human Harvest (2014)

pohjola/2017/IMG_1131

installation view, 2017
Leon Lee: Human Harvest (2014)

pohjola/2017/IMG_1127

The Hidden Truth, 2017
Leon Lee: Human Harvest (2014)

pohjola/2017/IMG_1145

Installation view, 2017
Leon Lee: Human Harvest (2014)

 
 
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