Exhibition Gerelkhuu Ganbold

In his paintings, Gerelkhuu Ganbold is juggling between laws of physics, historical symbols and personal history… 

Gerelkhuu Ganbold is a Mongolian painter who graduated in 2010 from the Mongolian University of Arts and Culture. Since then he has fleshed out his career with a long tale of exhibitions.

He has displayed paintings and illustrations in China at the ArtXiamen art fair, in Bulgaria for the International Print Biennial Verna 2019, and in Australia, Germany, Japan, the USA, Hong Kong. Closer to home he has displayed his work at Mongolia’s 976 Art Gallery and MN17.

Hypechase met with Ganbold to highlight his new solo exhibition, Mitochondrion, in the prestigious Khan Bank Tower in the heart of Ulaanbaatar – Mongolia.

What was your inspiration for this exhibition?

I was planning another exhibition, but it was postponed due to COVID-19. Afterwards while painting two of my works I realised I could transform it into an exhibition collection. So, it was not exactly planned.

What means Mitochondrion?

Mitochondrion is an organism in the human cell which turns food and nutrition into energy. I wanted this exhibition to give people energy. Except for a few items, all paintings in the exhibition have scientific names. For example, Exoplanet refers to planets outside of our solar system. Interference, in physics, means two different waves either destroy or amplify each other’s signals.

Why did you make your works about science?

I graduated with a major in Mongolian traditional arts. Symbolism has an important position in Mongolian artwork, but these symbols are not well understood in western countries with different cultures. However, if I present them with scientific names, they are understood everywhere from China to USA. I wanted to get the traditional messages explained in a scientific way.

Ganbold Gerelkhuu - Painting

Can you pick a work and explain it to us in detail?

This picture (see below) is about a secret. I have a big secret that everyone knows, but they never ask and I never speak of it. It is about guarding that secret. These ten gods are guarding that secret. In Buddhism, there are ten fiery gods that protect the religion, and each of them have their own duties. In every new temple and monastery, they are always depicted.

Painter in front of his artwork

For example, one of my paintings represents Ochirvaani the guardian of the secret, Jigjid observes and judges, Bayan Namsrai is the god of wealth. Knives sticking out of the gods’ eyes represent that when someone looks to these gods for salvation, they will not accept it.

When someone looks for salvation, they have to look the gods in the eyes, but the gods’ hidden eyes represents an obstacle. All the knives are different shapes. Slim ones cause an internal cut that will create an abscess and kill the person. Large knives and swords cut all the veins and cause blood spatters. So each one causes different damage and kills in a different way.

Painting - Close up

Dice on the gods’ heads are another symbol.  You can see Chinggis Khan, Einstein, Kadhafi, Hitler and Stalin as well. Rather than showing their good or bad, I painted them because of their skills. Andreï Tarkovsky (well-known Russian film director and writer) had a very complicated life, but the few movies he made touched people easily. Many arthaus movies were influenced by Tarkovsky’s principles.

Painting - Close up detail

How do you choose your colours? Some of them are really bright neon ones and some of them are really dark.

The colours depend on the context. For example, on this painting (see below), each colours represent a country like Japan, Russia and Korea depending on their special characteristics….

Painting - Minotaure

Let’s talk about this painting. Why this one has darker colours?

This work (see below) is about dreams and instincts so I wanted to give a feeling of floating. The animals represent the human world. The small characters are ones I have depicted before that viewers already know. They attract more kids and they can also influence adults. The lesson for adults is keep your inner child and value it.

Ganbold Gerelkhuu - Painting
Painting of Ganbold Gerelkhuu

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Interview: L. Borkhuu

Translation: Oyu Sukhbaatar

Writing: Adrien de Ville

Review: Gregory Greif