GERELKHUU GANBOLD, Aimless Journey (detail), 2014, marker on paper, 200 × 720 cm. Courtesy 976 Art Gallery, Ulaanbaatar.


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In November, Mongolia elected a new prime minister after the former one failed to improve the declining economy. Although it possesses substantial mineral deposits, Mongolia has struggled to convert them into economic gain due to mismanagement and disputes with foreign investors. With such issues occupying government resources, its small art community relies on support from various corporate and private sources.

The leading NGO, Arts Council of Mongolia (ACM), focuses on cultural advocacy, education and heritage-conservation programs. It also runs the Red Ger Art Gallery, which showed political paintings by emerging artist Badral (11/13–30). 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. MNMAG hosted “Her Presence in Colors – XI” (7/21–26), which featured 124 female artists from 20 countries in Asia.

The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts displays ancient to premodern works and also hosts the Red Ger Art Gallery. This year, the museum showed “FormLAB 5: Mongolia” (9/16–30), with video, sound and performance installations by New York-based Les Joynes and German artist Hagen Betzwieser, as well as artists from the Blue Sun Contemporary Art Center, a Mongolian collective that organizes experimental exhibitions and events. The private Tsagaandarium Art Museum held “Silence” (8/10–24), which showcased vibrant paintings by Munkhjargal Tsaschikher.

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 September, UMA held an exhibition featuring realist landscape paintings by Choindon Khurelbaatar (6/7–15).

Among Ulaanbaatar’s few commercial galleries is Xanadu Art Gallery, which holds exhibitions by emerging and established Mongolian artists. Also in Ulaanbaatar is the nonprofit contemporary art space 976 Gallery, which featured Gerelkhuu Ganbold’s neo-traditional Mongol Zurag paintings (9/11–21), conceptual installations by Enkhbold Togmidshiirev (5/27–6/10) and delicate line illustrations by Bayartsetseg Dashdondov. Gantuya Badamgarav, founder of 976, also operates the nonprofit Mongolian Contemporary Art Support Association (MCASA), dedicated to promoting emerging contemporary Mongolian artists.

In August, the third Land Art Biennial (8/3–29) took place in Central Mongolia’s Orkhon Valley, where 24 artists from 14 countries participated in outdoor workshops. Documentation of resultant installations and performances was exhibited at the UMA headquarters in Ulaanbaatar.

Abroad, landscape paintings by Gan-Erdene Tsend were shown at Galerie ROOT (4/30–5/25) and “Modern Paintings from Mongolia” (11/27–1/8/15) was held at Villa Kult, both in Berlin. Elsewhere in Germany, Ershuu Otgonbayar presented his phantasmagoric paintings at Galerie Peter Zimmermann, Mannheim (3/29–5/3). In London, Asia House presented “Steppe Closer: Contemporary Art from Mongolia” (9/23–10/3). In Japan, Mongolian artists were invited to paint Mount Fuji; resulting works were exhibited at the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art (11/5–9).

Looking ahead, MCASA will be organizing Mongolia’s first national pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in May. Mongolian artists will also participate for the first time in the Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane, in late November.