When you hear about a place in the news, did you ever think, "Oh, I would like to see how that is in reality?" I have. Ever since I heard about the blood bath in 1989(?) I wanted to see "that place."
A few years ago my son decided to go to China and teach English there. Hubby and I visited him after his first year in his one-week vacation (I'm not kidding!). In the back of my mind was, that now I could finally see "that place", Tienanmen Square.
To my disappointment everything seemed to go the other way. My son wanted to see some other cities, although he had a friend from the USA in Beijing, studying Chinese.
(this is the building close to the N-Gate)
Our itinerary changed again, a few weeks before we would go, because our son needed to be in Hong Kong one day, to renew his visa for the next school year. That meant that Beijing became a faint possibility.
To make a long story short. We did end up in Beijing for 2 1/2 days after all and saw the tourist sites, such as the Forbidden city (palaces of the kings), the Great Wall, and I got to paint plein air there (see my blog post:Life of an Artist: Bridges).
On the last day, we decided that we did not want to walk great distances anymore. It was a very grey day, being slowed down by a horrid 99% humidity. We were physically worn out because we had gone from the very South to the North in six days (thank goodness for air planes! and taxi's).
That meant we would fore go of Tienanmen Square.
When we finished our souvenir shopping it began to rain. The end of the shopping booths came out on a huge plaza. Everyone got out their umbrellas, and we walked to the other side. There we saw a restaurant. It was a hotpot restaurant.
Platters of very thin sliced meat and raw vegetables are brought to the table. They put a bag of spices in the boiling water of the fountain in the middle. It has the idea of a fondue, only much healthier, LOL. A great treat after being wet and tired.
When we finally left, the rain had cleared. So, we walked back onto that big plaza, and in reading the inscriptions and seeing the statues, we discovered we WERE on Tienanmen Square, the very place I wanted to see! The statues were what you typically see in a communistic country.
I was elated to be at this historic place. At the same time it felt eerie, knowing that so many young intelligent college students had died on the very grounds we walked on. The Chinese media, which is controlled by the communistic party reported it as "a student uprising." In reality, thousands of students had peacefully gathered on the square, wanting reform for the workers.
The authorities didn't know how to deal with crowd control. The soldiers didn't have pellets, and started shooting into the crowds. You don't know, unless you start digging, that to this day there are still people in prison because of that "uprising."
Just being on Tienanmen Square has left a deep impact on me.
This made for a painting that bluntly tells how disturbed and awful I feel about what happened there. It cannot be painted pretty, or peaceful.
Oil, 24 x 36, St.Germain
No rain can wash away innocent blood spilled at this square.
No powerful sculptures "of the people" can squelch the voice of true benevolence.
No amount of umbrellas can protect us from a rain...of bullets,
when our fear kills any inkling of change.
I also have some cheerful pics of this square, but I've held them back purposefully, because I like to let the following sink deep inside of us, and of me.
Freedom is a precious good, and we should guard it and savour it every day.
My wish is that we will never take our freedom for granted.