I checked this show out at the reception. Unfortunately, it was a closing reception and I was not afforded the opportunity to return for another viewing. It did remind me of last year’s Mongolian related art show. I wonder if there isn’t some study abroad opportunity in Mongolia through UT?
The two artists presented are in fact teacher and student. Mr. Amgalan is the elder artist and showed work in what I’m forced to call “western style paintings.” Mr. Tsolmon studied under Mr. Amgalan and paints in a traditional Mongolian painting style. It looks very much like traditional Chinese paintings. The gallery website highlights what I felt were the strongest pieces from each of the artists. All around the space, the paintings depicted cattle, horses, and brightly garbed characters captured in action.
My initial reaction was to wonder why Mr. Amgalan was interested in western style of realistic painting and why the younger Mr. Tsolmon chose to employ a more “traditional” technique. I placated that thought with thinking about the (possible) cultural needs the artists are filling. Mr. Amgalan might represent the need to reach out beyond Mongolia’s borders to improve economic and social standing on the global arena. Mr. Tsolmon might represent the effort to maintain a Mongolian identity in the new global neighborhood. I haven’t read up on Mongolia’s history, so I don’t know how accurate this hunch is.
Looking back, I find it interesting that the two artists remind me of two versions of the same story. Because of the animals and the costumes I think of the different accounts of the Battle of Little Big Horn. Mr. Amgalan’s paintings and the US account of Custer’s Last Stand [via] bring an outsiders perspective, while Mr. Tsolmon and Kicking Bear’s [via] account of Big Horn look stylistically primitive, yet closer to the truth. Again, going on a hunch. I’ve yet to see a Mongolian city profiled for its modernity. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul and other Asian cities in or around China are shown to display their prominence in the world.
This show got me thinking about cultural exchange without stooping into exotic tourism. It was almost there, though. Sadly, one of the paintings was damaged (from age or transport, who knows?) and Mr. Tsolmon’s work were mainly prints. I’d guess that the combination of venue and the quality of the works saved it. NOT BAD