By LUCY THOMPSON
A prolific collection of watercolor work is being shown in a joint exhibition by D.Batnasan and S.Munkhbaatar, both of whom have a host of previous exhibitions to their names, at Q Art Gallery near Bella Vista.
“The Smell of Water” explores rural Mongolia, from the wild landscapes of “Elsen Tasarkhai” and “Canyon” to village scenes, lonely gers, and heartfelt portraits.
The exhibition is named after D.Batnasan’s painting “Smell of Water”, which was featured at the Albanian International Biennial this year. It depicts a river bordered by trees and hazy mountains. The Impressionist style and the way the colors bleed into each other creates the sensation of a landscape viewed during a rare rainy day.
Both artists work in Impressionist and Realist styles, which are effective in adding emotional depth to their pieces. For example, “Training” by D.Batnasan shows seven young boys learning to ride horses. The children’s modern clothes contrast with the old, familiar tradition they are carrying on, which, combined with the use of bright colors, suggests a celebration of this core element of Mongolian identity.
In “Can This?” the artist uses a similar technique of indistinct background and vivid foreground to bring out the emotion of the piece; the three girls are painted in bright colors against a muted setting in a way which reflects their joyful laughter.
S.Munkhbaatar also draws attention to the main subject of his pieces in this manner, but particularly in his portraits, he uses a great amount of detail to create character, as in “Mongolian Girl” and “Eagle”. In the latter an old man, face just visible through fur, is looking wistfully up at the sky. His lined face and straggly beard communicate not only his age but a sense of what he has lived through; the artist uses his bearing and the painting’s title to imply a sense of great past pride.
This exhibition captures not just moments of Mongolian life but their associated sensations. It is open until June 3.