Filipino artist QUICCS working on a painting for the “Tiger Translate Mongolia” project in Ulaanbaatar, 2012. Photo: Dylan Maddux. Courtesy Tiger Translate / Asia Pacific Breweries.


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Nestled between the industrial powerhouses of Russia and China, Mongolia is expected to grow economically as it feeds its mineral riches to its two hungry giant neighbors. However, contemporary Mongolian art has yet to be considered a natural resource at home, and the small art community, centered in the capital Ulaanbaatar, receives varying degrees of support from governmental, corporate and private sources.

The leading NGO, the ten-year-old Arts Council of Mongolia (ACM), focuses on cultural advocacy, education and heritage-conservation programs. It also runs the Red Ger Art Gallery, which exhibited abstract paintings made up of small animal figures by Berlin-based painter and gallerist Ershuu Otgonbayar in “Otgo Art” (10/12–25). Khan Bank, an ACM supporter, also hosts exhibitions in the gallery. 

Mongolia has two state-run museums that periodically host contemporary exhibitions: the Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery (MNMAG) and the Mongolian National Museum. In addition to “Rapid/Transit” (7/27–31)—which presented ink drawings, videos and sculptures by US and Mongolian artists—MNMAG hosted “Land Art Mongolia LAM 360°” (8/6–31), the second edition of its land-art biennial featuring 27 artists from 13 countries, including Australia, China and Japan. 

The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts (ZMFA) displays ancient to premodern works, and also hosts the Red Ger Art Gallery. ZMFA also organized the fourth UB Art Fair (10/5–10), which included painting, sculpture and local craftworks, with a special focus on female artists and artisans. The private Tsagaandarium Art Museum held “1911” (1/7–31), showcasing figurative paintings by O. Nyamdavaa.

The Soviet-style Union of Mongolian Artists (UMA), established in 1942, is a national organization that promotes the work of its more than 600 members. In February, UMA held “My Mongolia – 2” (2/17–22), an exhibition of nature paintings by Gurjav Tsengunjav.

Headed by artist Yondonjunai Dalk-Ochir, the Blue Sun Contemporary Art Center focuses on conceptual and experimental art. It organized “Art Camp 2012” (7/3–8/3) at the local independent space Design Park, with paintings, photographs and sculptures by French, Mongolian and US artists created during workshops held on the Mongolian steppe. Nomad Wave Art Group, which was founded by Enkhjargal Ganbat and promotes performance and installation art, performed in “One and One” (11/11), a multigenre art event at the iLoft nightclub.

Among Ulaanbaatar’s few commercial galleries is Xanadu Art Gallery, which held “Tengeriin Dardas” (“The Print of the Sky”) (1/5–25), a solo exhibition of works by local artist Lkhagva Amarsanaa.

A multiday art event sponsored by Asia Pacific Breweries’ Tiger Beer brand, “Tiger Translate Mongolia” (8/21–24) brought together artists from Australia, the Philippines and Mongolia to create collaborative paintings inspired by Mongolian street culture. These were presented in a “global showcase” at a local nightclub, where the artists participated in live art performances.

Abroad, Hong Kong’s Schoeni Art Gallery held a solo exhibition, “Earthbound” (4/12–5/7), by figurative painter Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav, as well as the group show “Urban Narratives: New Contemporary Mongolian Art” (8/31–10/6). In Berlin, Zurag Gallery presented several exhibitions of Mongolian art, including “Where I Am . . . ?” (3/3–5), showcasing artworks by fashion-designer Hongorzul Bayaraa. Also in Germany, Tuguldur Yondonjamts’ drawings were part of “Magische Geschichten” (“Magical Stories”) (4/5–5/5) at Kunstverein Graz in Regensburg.

Looking ahead, a collaborative project between US and Mongolian artists led by painter Susan Fox, the “Wild Art Mongolia Expedition,” is set to take place in the summer of 2013. The group will travel to the Gobi Desert and create artworks inspired by the landscape—the project will culminate in an exhibition and a publication.