The Hidden Truth 被隐瞒的真相
9.9.2017 – 8.10.2017

妈妈, mā mā, '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

合十, Hé shí, Heshi - Portrait of Liu Yumei, 2017
pencil and pastel on paper
249 x 144 cm


团圆, Reunion - Portrait of Zhiping Wu and Luoxin Zhu, 2016-2017
pencil and coal on paper
242 x 145 cm


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


法轮桩法, Fǎ lún zhuāng fǎ, Falun Standing Stance, Portrait of Shi James, 2017
pencil on papaer
249 x 144 cm


第二家园, Dì èr jiā yuán, Second Homeland - Portrait of Wang Jie, Gao Lei and Gao Xinhui Kristiina, 2017
pencil and pastel colour on paper
236 x 149 cm


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


Heikki Reponen:World Village Festival, Helsinki, 2016
41 x 51 cm


41 x 51 cm


Heikki Reponen: Hong En, Helsinki, 2017
41 x 51 cm


Heikki Reponen: James and Henna Pohjola, Helsinki, 2016
41 x 51 cm


Heikki Reponen: Yumei Liu, Helsinki, 2017
41 x 51 cm


Heikki Reponen: Chen Zhenping, Helsinki, 2017
41 x 51 cm


Heikki Reponen: Free2Meditate-procession, New York, 2015
41 x 51 cm


Heikki Reponen: Falun Dafa - Peru, New York, 2015
41 x 51 cm


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




Heikki Reponen:With respect to the memory of the victims of the persecution of Falun Gong, 2016
Henna Pohjola, Zhiping Wu & Luoxin Zhu, Liu Jirong, Shi Janni & James, Liu Yumei, Wang Jie & Gao Lei, Gao Xinhui Kristiina.


Leon Lee: Human Harvest (2014)


The Hidden Truth, 2017
installation view


The Hidden Truth, 2017
installation view


The Hidden Truth, 2017
installation view

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