WHY ART MATTERS DURING COVID-19
Harmonious Vibes is a show by D.Ochir and E.Tuvshintur (Altan Khaan Gallery, June 12 – July 14). Ochir is a sculptor. His specialty is metalwork. Tuvshintur is an artist who primarily works with leather. This show has an esoteric vibe that focuses on the spiritual, shamanic qualities of art. Tuvshintur’s rhombus canvases with leather spirals symbolize the unending flow of life-force energy, change and expansion. Ochir’s welded as well as miniature, abstract sculptures in mixed media channel the animal spirit: tiger, bull, lion, the four harmonious animals (elephant, monkey, hare and bird). A small sculpture of Chinggis Khaan praying to the sky was particularly cute. Most impressive out of these works were Tuvshintur’s landscape of the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park and Ochir’s welded sculpture of a horsehead with a flaming mane. The quality of craftsmanship and creative resolution in both did not disappoint. Given the roughness of the media used, the artists’ skills rendered a graceful outcome that emits harmonious vibes. I hope that further attention to detail by these talented artists will continue to produce even more polished works in the future.
Parallel is a joint exhibition by six artists: B.Bat-Orgil, B.Bat-Erdene, Ts.Davaajargal, D.Dorjderem, S.Ganzug, J.Gantulga (MN17 Art Gallery, February 22nd – end date unspecified). They are part of the Mongolian contemporary art movement called “Human Nature Love Freedom”. In the dark space of the gallery, our eyes are challenged to palpate vast sheets of felt that encompass black canvases with microbial volcanos protruding. A giant face of an infant bulging out of a white wall presented as a work-in-progress reflects the most amount of light amidst other pieces: experiential sculptures, installations, bricolages, video art and digital prints that seem to be set less clearly into the foreground. Particularly interesting was a cosmic sound design that perfectly accompanies a sculpture evoking a military maquette of a tiny armada of spaceships. My visit coincided with an exclusive party for a trendy young generation of visitors. Their face masks and creative fashion statements added extra volume to the respectful and rebellious atmosphere.
Journey is a solo exhibition by the graphic artist and printmaker Z.Uyanga (Norphei Art Gallery, June 23 to 30). She specially trained in printmaking (Repin Academy of Arts, 1989) and has been teaching her craft at the University of Arts and Culture. This show is a retrospective of her selected works from 1989 through 2018, including unique prints from the 1994 “Mongol Queens” series and two prints from 1994 and 2006 that were selected by the Union of Mongolian Artists as part of their annual show of best artworks. The diversity of the subject matter attests to the artist’s rich oeuvre: dancers in boldly contoured action, women in traditional Mongolian Khalkha wife’s dress and hairdo, still lifes with spectral flowers, battle scenes from medieval Mongolian history. The expressiveness achieved by superimposed layers of bright colors and etchings were potent, especially in the arresting simplicity of the silk screen cave paintings.
I think it is because art helps us to gain wider perspective.
As governments scratch their heads over how to revive the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic, and as medical professionals work hard to prevent the disease from reigniting in the future, artists will preserve the cultural memory of these times of hardship. Through their creations, they will show that humanity came to terms with its current reality, chose to set aside their differences and joined forces to proceed with hope that the future will be better than the present.
The Black Plague that killed over 50 million people in Medieval Europe instigated a Renaissance of Culture and Innovation during the subsequent centuries, wrote Swiss Historian Jacob Burckhardt in 1878 in the Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. Presently, the devastations of COVID-19 are fortunately not as massive as those of the Black Death, relatively speaking. It may take historians half a millennium to draw conclusions like Burckhardt did at the end of the 19th century. Or it may not.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to ignore the impending global shift to a new “normal” after COVID-19.
By Ariunaa Jargalsaikhan
Published in UB Post on July 1st, 2020