Baldugiin Sharav

Baldugiin Sharav or an artist of the Urga School, Winter Palace, 1912–13, mineral pigments on cotton, Collection Bogd Khaan Palace Museum, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, installation view, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

As legend has it, the Tibetan-born reincarnate ruler Bogd Khan (1870–1924) commissioned the famous artist Baldugiin Sharav to paint scenes representative of life in the Mongolian countryside during the first years of the Khan’s theocratic rule over Mongolia. With the assistance of other artists, Sharav created two paintings that were initially titled Daily Events, but now have been renamed One Day of Mongolia (Autumn) and Airag Feast. The paintings are emblematic of the Urga School of painting—a style of Mongolian painting of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that sought to preserve the traditional elements of folk painting and was characterized by narrative compositions with straight-forward, colorful depictions of events free from strictly religious subject material, while often infused with parody and exaggeration. In the year 2017, One Day of Mongolia (Autumn) exists as both a frequently reproduced icon of national identity and an image of rural life that continues today only outside of Mongolia’s sedentary urban centers. Winter Palace, rumored to be painted by Sharav as well, depicts the Khan’s winter palace as an important center for agriculture and trade, as well as some scenes of debauchery. Arguably, the rumors and potential scandals around the authenticity of the paintings as well as their attribution to Sharav (who continued to be a socialist realist painter in the socialist Mongolian People’s Republic until his death), only adds to their status as national and cultural icons.

Posted in Public Exhibition