Interviews with Artists Featured in the "Uncompromising Courage" Art Exhibit: Oil Painting - "The Immortals"

PureInsight | August 2, 2004

A partial view of "The Immortals," an oil painting by Ms. Yao Chongqi

Reporter: Zhu Qingming, a reporter for Zhengjian/Pureinsight Net
Yao: Ms. Yao Chongqi, the artist who painted "The Immortals"

Reporter: Ms. Yao, could you tell us a little bit about your professional background?

Yao: I developed my love for painting when I was still a child. My mother was also a painter. So I studied art and have worked in the field for more than 40 years.

Reporter: So you are a professional artist?

Yao: You can say that. I held a number of jobs in China and they were all in the art arena. Because of my love for it, I have been painting all my life.

Reporter: When did you first begin your cultivation in Falun Dafa?

Yao: Around 1996 or 1997.

Reporter: Has cultivation greatly influenced or brought out big changes in your painting?

Yao: One big change is…Although I never cared too much about fame, I had too deep of a love for painting. In the 1960s, during one of Chinese Communist Party's many political movements to cleanse the "undesirables," I was taken away from my job and my family and forced to perform hard labor at a so-called "Cadet School." Life was extremely harsh then, and the only way that I was able to make it was through painting. Without it, I would have lost the will to live. After I started my cultivation in Falun Gong, I realized that I was too attached to painting. So I decided to stop painting in order to remove that attachment. I gave away all my painting supplies and only kept a few of my favorite pigments. Recently I realized that artwork is also an important method for us to clarify the truth about Falun Gong. So I picked up painting again.

Reporter: So this is the first time that you have picked up your painting brushes since you began your cultivation?

Yao: That is basically right. This is the first time that I've done an oil painting. Before this exhibition, during the past several years I had only done some simple drawings, animated cartoons, caricatures when the need arose. Stories of practitioners who have been tortured to death shook me up a lot. When I was learning how to do computer graphics design, I started putting their photos together. I am a practitioner myself and I know that all practitioners want is to be nice people. From the photos of practitioners who have been persecuted to death, we can see that some of them were very young, the youngest one being only eight months old, and some elderly people were tortured to death as well. All of them just wanted to be good people! I know that all these Falun Gong practitioners were very healthy before and yet they were tortured to death in such a way! This made me deeply sad. I wanted to find all of their photos and put them together in one place for people to see. In the beginning, I did it on the computer and it was relatively easy to do. I just removed the background of individual photos and put them together as one image. All the people in these pictures were once alive and well. They were healthy and kind people, and yet they were tortured to death by the Chinese dictator Jiang and his followers. I hope that those who have viewed this oil painting of mine can tell more people the truth about Falun Gong and work together to stop this persecution.

Reporter: How many people are included in this painting?

Oil Painting "The Immortals" by Ms. Yao Chongqi (110in.x 42in), 2004

Yao: [Out of those practitioners who have been tortured to death], I could find photos for 280 of them and I put all of their faces in this painting. Some of the photos are as small as fingernails and blurry. Their friends and loved ones went through a lot to bypass the information blockade in China and release their photos to the outside world. So I have tried my best to paint them as close to their photos as I could and as carefully as I could. When Jiang's gang persecuted those good people, they also persecuted those around them. All these people had families. Some kids' parents died and some parents' kids died. I try to commemorate them through my painting. But there is no way for me to paint the faces of some victims. For example, a pregnant practitioner was persecuted to death and there is no way for me to draw the face of her unborn child. That child was also a life! Now we know that more than one thousand people have been tortured to death. When I started this painting, there were only a few more than 200 documented cases of practitioners being persecuted to death. Now that number has risen to more than 1000. In addition, there is no way for us to estimate the number of practitioners who have been persecuted to death but whose deaths haven't been made known to the outside world yet. I painted the faces of the 280 practitioners to let more people see these good people and help to stop this persecution. Look at how happy they were! They were all good and productive members of the society. Whenever I think of these things, I can not hold back my tears…you see, some of them were only seventeen or eighteen years old, but they were tortured to death. Every single one of them has a story to tell.

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