ENKHBOLD TOGMIDSHIIREV, 1978
Enkhbold’s early interest in art was influenced by his parents, who introduced him to simple working with wood, and he began carving as a young teenager in the countryside. Recalling his fascination with carving, Enkhbold cherishes his memories of joyous satisfaction as he transformed the wood with his hands. Those unforgettably pleasant experiences led him in 2001 from his rural home to the city to enroll in a private art college first, then soon after transfer to the Institute of Fine Art, the best established and only public school of art (established in 1945), and to seek a career that was inconceivable to his parents at the time.
Enkhbold was fortunate to end up in the studio of abstract artist Enkhbat Lantuu, who was one of the few faculty at the school who had had substantial encounters with conceptual Western media during showings of his works in Mongolian group exhibitions in Holland and France, and during his years of study in Utrecht, Netherlands. Enkhbat quickly saw Enkhbold’s taste for abstract and conceptual thinking in art and encouraged him to experiment with nonfigurative painting and installations at the school, where installations had never been part of the curriculum.
Despite the lack of understanding of conceptual art in Mongolia and at his own school, Enkhbold was never discouraged and continued searching for the potential in his inventions. His search for new possibilities was nurtured by his Blue Sun colleagues and Western artist friends who frequently visited contemporary artists in Mongolia. There is no doubt that the joint exhibitions with them, including in Finland, were an important source of inspiration for his development in his own media.
Enkhbold never forgot his creative beginnings: working with his hands and wood, carving, and his inventive transformation of a natural piece into an object for human use. His early exhibitions included a series of prints of tree growth rings that marked a critical departure from depiction to conceptual art. This departure is what is most difficult for mainstream artists to comprehend. The experience of a transformational relationship between nature and human that exists in nomadic life laid the foundation for Enkhbold’s art for years to come, shaping his ger performances in Europe and Asia. The national preoccupation with retrieving the past through ancient Mongol heroes was not the right route for Enkhbold’s search for his roots. Rather, he sought roots and identity in a return home, to the nomadic heritage he was raised in. Enkhbold’s paintings are made of nature-based materials that derive from the nomadic culture and have never previously been used in making paintings. These include horse dung, felt, shrub, ash, rust, sheep skin, and, quite recently, even tripe. Enkhbold’s transformation of these materials from their nomadic everyday use to production of art is more than challenging. Robert Rauschenberg’s “combined paintings” and Jasper Johns’s maps and flags, among others, did raise questions about the nature of paintings as traditionally understood. Likewise, replacing paints and pigments with rust, horse dung, or tripe, and attaching sheep skins as the central element of his composition, Enkhbold critically alerts us to rethink what constitutes a “painting.”
Since his debut in the art world, Enkhbold has established himself as Mongolia’s foremost performance artist. During his visits to Europe (UK, 2011) and his residency programs there (Holland, 2009), Enkhbold presented several performances, setting up his small portable ger on an empty beach, near a windmill, and outside of a museum. The idea of this portable little home that travels and changes with its occupant constitutes the core of his art concept.
2000 Setgemj College of Design and Technology, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
2005 Institute of Fine Art, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
2014 Mining, 976 Art Gallery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
2011 Mining in Mind, Xanady Art Gallery Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Selected Group Exhibitions:
2014 FormLab, joint international artists’ exhibition, Zanabazar Fine Art Museum, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
2013 Nomad Mind, French-Mongolian artist, National Modern Art Gallery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
2012 Shanghai International Biennale 2012, curated by Qiu Zhijie, China
2011 The Desertification in the Art, Xanady Art Gallery, Ulaanbaatar Mongolia
2011 Bare House Project, Zanabazar Museum, Ulaanbaataar, Mongolia
2011 Asia Triennial Manchester, The Manchester Museum & Islington Mill, UK
2010 Bare House Project, Poritaidemuseo, Poriginal Gallery Finland
2010 Time & Space, Mongolia-Korea Arts Festival, Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art, Jeju, Korea
2009 B&Z exhibition Stitching Kaus Àustralis Studio, Rotterdam
2009 Art Party of Mongolia, by Blue Sun, Modern Art Gallery Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
2008 Mongolian Perception and Utopia, Kerava Art Museum, Finland
2006 Blue Sun Art Camp, International Symposium, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
2011 Islington Mill Studio, England, Manchester (2 weeks)
2010 Time & Space, nomadic artists’ residency program in Umnugobi, Mongolia and Jeju, Korea
2010 Finland, Pori city (1 month)
2009 Stichting Kaus Àustralis Studio, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (3 months)