Artist J.Narmandakh delved into his artistic career in the following interview. Even though he has hearing impairments, he works tirelessly for his dreams. At his “NKH Naka Artist” website, he said, “You are all born special, whether you are old, young, popular or ordinary. Life is short, so don’t get angry, hurt, or have bad thoughts. Please make others happy with whatever you can.”
You confirm that a hearing impaired person can do all things other than listening. Have you wanted to draw since you were little?
I am lucky. I was born in 1988 in Ulaanbaatar as the second child of my parents and grew up with their great love. Actually, I was born healthy. Without realizing that the brain was little damaged, the doctors took water from my spinal cord and gave a strong injection, and I lost my hearing. When I entered school at the age of eight, I learned and felt that I had a little talent for drawing in the drawing club of the Children’s Workshop Creation Center. I continued to study in the drawing club of School No. 29 and became a student of L.Dashdendev. When I was a student, I presented my exhibition called “Wish” and was awarded with the “Talent” gold medal of the Mongolian Children’s Palace.
How did you fulfill your desire to study at the university?
My mother supported my desire to study at the university and took me to the Institute of Fine Arts. But I was not admitted because I was deaf. But my teacher L.Dashdendev took me to the school of visual arts. When I took the exam, I passed. I even studied with a 50 percent scholarship. In reality, everything that has the name “state” rejects us. I became a student of L.Dashdendev, the art teacher of School No. 29, and I fell in love with painting. It is said that my teacher was also poisoned by strong injection when he was young and his hearing was impaired. Teacher L.Dashdendev was not an ordinary educator. Exhibitions of his students have been organized locally and abroad, and we regularly participated in hand drawing contests of secondary schools. My teacher has inspired many children to live. While studying at the university, I participated in the joint exhibition of students and was selected as the best. I always thank my family for always supporting me and looking for opportunities for me to learn and develop.
The majority of your pieces are portraits, right?
Yes. I am interested in portraits and I also like to draw portraits. I am bad at abstract painting because I’m deaf. So I draw by looking. I usually love drawing portraits of famous people. Of course, because other people know them well, they can judge whether they are the same or not. Only a sane person would have thought what would happen if the noise was removed from this universe. If it is removed, it will be boring and gloomy. The world’s celebrities are showing the strength of people’s creative will to overcome any difficulties. Although Ludwig van Beethoven lost his hearing in the last years of his life, he continued to work. It is said that famous painter Claude Monnier continued to paint even when he lost his vision. Due to our hearing impairment, we are deprived of information from an early age and cannot create abstract works like professional artists. But we can’t help but draw and listen like them.
Have you ever had a portrait exhibition?
In 2014, I held a solo exhibition named “Thank you” with portraits of well-known people. Since the appreciation of painting in Mongolia has not developed much, in order to change my life, I went to South Korea in 2017 and worked there for two years. I studied carpentry and had my own workshop.
How often do you receive orders from people?
I hate to waste my short life by bothering my parents because of my hearing loss. I do carpentry from May to October, and when it’s cold, I paint in my studio between November and April. I get a lot of orders for wooden furniture. People appreciate wooden furniture because it is very durable and eco-friendly. I make children’s toys, sheds, chairs and beds out of wood. If people order, I cut tiles and make cabinets and kitchen furniture.
It is said that age does not matter in dreams. Can you share your dream?
I have a dream to turn my furniture workshop into a small factory. Recently, small and medium-sized enterprises sought loans to enlarge their equipment and purchase cutting and edge-gluing machines. Even though the Ulaanbaatar Labor and Welfare Department supported them, the bank rejected. I don’t really like the definition of disability. Although we are different from healthy people, we can develop. The government tells us that we cannot live on allowances and that we need to work, but in reality it is the opposite. Before starting my own small workshop, I went to many furniture factories to get a job as a carpenter, but I was rejected because I was deaf. Because of this, my mother felt sorry for me and cried many times.
Wasn’t there a single company that hired you?
My life continues to show that the good is more than the bad. “Gobi Khangai Mebel” furniture factory hired me immediately. I am very happy to have worked there for two years in a very nice and warm team. I was even featured in the commercials of my company.