O.NYAM-OCHIR: Mongolian script is groundwork for my abstract paintings

O.NYAM-OCHIR: Mongolian script is groundwork for my abstract paintings

In the middle stands artist O.Nyam-Ochir

I talked with calligrapher O.Nyam-Ochir. His “First Line” exhibition was opened at the “Lham” gallery just before the Naadam festival and was presented to the audience until the last day of August. When the artist, who was considered only a calligrapher by the fine arts community, displayed his colorful and abstract works, everyone was interested and some even asked, “Are you an artist”?. We had an interview with him as soon as he was back from his travelling.

You finished the summer with a lot of artistic achievements. You released your exhibition and traveled around the country. How was that?

I participated in a joint plenary exhibition of artists and painters, traveled around Gobi and painted. It was organized with the support of the Umnugobi Province council in Ulaanbaatar, and “Ajnai” Corporation. We had a great trip and worked together with famous artists and contemporaries of current times. We went through seven soums of Umnogobi province and traveled a total of more than 2,500 km. We rested and drew stripes in the beautiful natural places of Muhar Shivert, Yol Am, Saran Valley, Hermen and Nemegt Tsav, Naran Daats, and Bayan Zag. I admired the nature of Mongolian Gobi, and felt the value of water from the even tiniest drops.

Gobi is beautiful. How would you describe it as an artist?

In exaggeration, it’s like being the first person to land on Mars. Especially when I was walking
on Nemegt Tsav, I felt like I was walking among the Egyptian pyramids. I also scolded people
who do not know how to love such a beautiful nature. This unique place, where everything is
beautiful and amazing, had been littered. Seeing alcohol bottles and cans thrown here and there, we couldn’t pass by as if we hadn’t seen them, so we picked them up. You know how city dwellers leak hot and cold water carelessly? We don't even think about anything when drinking cold water from the refrigerator. But in Gobi, I learnt what a rare treasure water is.

There is a theme and definition of “One family of Gobi”. Have you seen the life of Gobi families?

There were times when I wondered how people could live in such a closed place, far away from from modern communications and information, including social media. But those distant, Gobi families live very well. The house is very clean. Even families who are camping treat others with tea and food. The income seems to be good as well. There are many families who increase their income by selling natural stones. For example, they offered me a traditional snuffbox for 400,000 MNT. We went to Dalanzadgad next. The people of this town live reasonably well. The environment is tidy, and the toilets are clean. A dinosaur museum has been established there. It has a new and beautiful theater, no less than the Opera House in the capital. It was said that “Khurd” band played just before we arrived. All this seemed good, and the idea of new art was born. In general, I decided on my next theme for art exhibition. I got a lot of energy from nature.

Your “First Lines” exhibition this summer had a lot of visitors. There was even a person who pointed out that “a person who I thought was a calligrapher exhibited his works of art.” Did you hear such conversations?

I used to get up early when I was walking in the countryside. I used to sit in the morning sun and paint until evening. People who saw my paintings said, “I didn't expect you to work with colors. I thought you would take out ink, draw a mountain in black, but you paint brilliantly in color. Didn’t know that you were an artist. If you work with colors in the future, there is a future.”
In fact, I used to write more than draw in the past. I will continue to draw.

Why did you name your exhibition “First lines”?

The calligraphers have established a tradition of going to Tsetsee Gun, the peak of Bogdkhaan Mountain, in the new snow of the new year, drawing the first lines and writing on the snow. After that, an exhibition called “New Snow” is held to symbolize the new art. Based on this event, the name of the exhibition was given to highlight the importance of the first line. Art critic of Lham and was responsible for advertising. In general, they organized it very well. At the opening of the exhibition, I thought that I would write and show art on a large piece of paper. But Kristina thought differently. In Mongolia, the horse-headed fiddle is usually played at the opening of public or other organization events. She liked the idea of writing on one of the walls of the gallery when I suggested opening the art exhibition with modern music. For the first time, I tried writing freely on the gallery wall. This action became an unexpected gift for the guests who came to the opening of the exhibition. We don’t have a gallery to stick a piece of paper, let alone to “paint” the walls like this.

What did the audience read from your art?

Although these are creative in an abstract style, if you look closely, they contain the basic drawings and rules of Mongolian script. I used sprinkling and leaching method. When coming up with the idea of “Ocean”, I tried to show tides and water waves while using the basic images used to would be considered a contemporary art. It seems that you, artist who has mastered the Mongolian script and has the advantage of writing beautifully, has begun to deepen the work with great breadth and depth of meaning. I’m trying. Mongolian script allows us to think freely and on a large scale. Moreover, it seems that it is possible to work within the framework of a certain topic of natural phenomena.

When did you start calligraphy?

In 2008, I graduated from the painting class of the Institute of Fine Arts. I’m a student of teacher, D.Batmunkh. I started learning calligraphy the year after I finished school. In the same year, when the cultural heritage festival “World Culture and Youth” was held in Turkey, the Art Council and the Turkish Embassy jointly invited young artists to participate. I went there to write beautiful Mongolian script. Turkish people are very interested in Mongolian script, and many people had their names and other words written, so the over 200 pieces of paper I had prepared finished completely. It was in demand. Then I thought of becoming a student of calligraphy under master, Batbayar of the calligraphy training center at the Literacy, Culture and Education Center, and of teacher, Ganbaatar at the National History Museum. Since then, I started creating works exclusively with calligraphy. I think that it is thanks to the knowledge, power, and charity given by my teachers.

You work with your father. Is your father a calligrapher?

My father is my manager. I became an artist because my father loves artwork. I’m following the path taught by my father.

Amarjargal Munkhbat