2005-08-03 / Features

Crystal Gallery Exhibition Brings Art Down To Earth

by richard o


Chaolun Baatar and graphic representations of two of his works.
Photos Richard O’BrienChaolun Baatar and graphic representations of two of his works. Photos Richard O’Brien For Chaolun Baatar, the attacks of September 11 inspired a new artistic paradigm. “Art has typically been something appreciated in—and confined to—studios and galleries,” he said. “After 9/11, I felt the need to bring cultures together through the universal experience of nature and the environment. In an artistic transition from canvas to land, my focus shifted to ‘Earthworks’.”

Baatar’s Earthworks, as well as the work of three other respected Mongolian artists, were on display July 30 at the Crystal Foundation Art Gallery reception for “Beyond Border—Mongolian Artists Group Exhibition.”

Baatar’s premier Earthwork, or “Land Art,” is called ”Skylight Toono,” and is displayed on video for gallery visitors. The film “Skylight Toono” exhibits a mesmerizing circle of fire on the ground—a 50-meter-diameter, wheel-shaped configuration whose media are dry leaves and gasoline.

As the first leaves are ignited, music especially composed for Baatar plays in the background. The outer circle is meant to suggest our planet itself, while the intersecting vertical and horizontal axes joined by an inner circle represent unity for mankind. “Though ‘Skylight Toono’ has the look of a fiery wheel, I want the viewer to see it more as an illuminating window—a view into nature and the spirituality of our lives,” Baatar said.

The video goes on to Baatar’s “The Desolate Tree,” which pans over the contorted branches of a dead tree as an allegory for the grotesque potential of a neglected environment.

The Mongolian Artists Group Exhibition also includes the works of Otgonbaatar Dorjgotov, Fen Ming Ron and Wen Kai. The pieces in Dorjgotov’s exhibit are natural stone color on a silk medium. Historic scenes depicted in his paintings include Mongolian temples, individual warriors and armies heading into battle.

Ron’s exhibit consists of Mongolian folk art, with images on paper cut into various shapes and superimposed on fabric (”Paper-Cut Art”).

Kai’s section of the exhibition is a group of framed photographs of Inner Mongolia from the 1950s. These shots capture the rugged, nomadic lifestyle of the country, with people traveling through desert landscapes in wagons pulled by steers, camels and horses.

Chaolun Baatar graduated from the Oil Painting Department of the Central Institute of Nationalities in Beijing in 1982. Later, he completed a postgraduate program of oil painting in Beijing’s Central Institute of Fine Arts. His subsequent career in abstract oil painting has been internationally acclaimed. In 2000, Manhattan art historian and writer D.F. Colman wrote of Baatar: “The mysterious aspect of each work is the psychic residue left between the ineffable distance of conscious reality and unconscious processes of recording the beauty of [his] painterly application. This is the gift which this artist so provocatively brings to the world and it stems from a rare discernment and the capacity to see beyond sight’s everyday parameters.”

Since changing his artistic focus to Earthworks, Baatar has exhibited his burning Skylight Toono in New York, Washington, Beijing, Inner Mongolia and Taiwan. The exhibit is scheduled to appear over the next three years in South America, Australia, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and as an “ice-sealed skylight” at the top of the Himalayas.

The most exciting Land Art creation—Baatar’s longtime dream—is set for 2006: “Skylight—Horses Toono.” In this unique project, the artist will film 800 Mongolian horses from a helicopter through a giant, burning Toono of the kind featured in his video art and oil paintings. He is scheduling the event in conjunction with the 800-year anniversary of the Mongolian Empire.

The Beyond Border—Mongolian Artists Group Exhibition is scheduled to run through August 20 at Crystal Foundation Art Gallery, 31-10 Whitestone Expwy., Flushing. Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Artwork is available for sale; inquire at the reception desk for information on making purchases.

The Crystal Foundation Art Gallery offers ongoing exhibits throughout the year. Following the Mongolian Artists Group, the gallery is scheduled to feature a group art exhibition from Ningxia of China in September and a Lin Yan, Shen Chen group exhibition in October (dates still to be confirmed). For more information on Crystal Foundation Art Gallery exhibits, call 718-961-7300.

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