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Artist Spotlight: Chaolun Baatar

Chaolun Baatar was born in Inner Mongolia and lives and works in China, Mongolia and New York. He received a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from Central University of the Nationalities in Beijing. He has had several solo exhibitions notably at The Art Museum of Chang Liu, Taipei, Indiana University; the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, Staten Island; and at the National Museum of Fine Arts both in Ulaanbaatar and in Beijing. He is noted for his startling earthworks, “Toono” at Khazuurt Mountain in Ulaanbatar and “Second Burning,” in Derljee. His work is in many permanent collections including the National Museum of Fine Arts, Inner Mongolia and at the Museum of Fine Arts Chang Liu, Taipei.

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 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.

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- “Skylight—Horses Toono" came to fruition in 2019. In this unique project, the artist filmed 800 Mongolian horses from a helicopter through a giant, burning Toono of the kind featured in his video art and oil paintings. The event was held in conjunction with the 800-year anniversary of the Mongolian Empire.

On October 10 2016, Chaolun along with another Mongolian Artist held a joint exhibition International Mongolian Contemporary Art Exhibition at the United Nations Delegates Entrance, held to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Mongolia's accession to full membership at the U.N.

Dignitaries included Sukhbold Sukhee, Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations, as well as Baatar and two other world-renowned Mongolian artists. Joining them was our own Executive Director of the QCC Art Gallery, Faustino Quintanilla, who delivered some congratulatory comments to all, while reaffirming his commitment to deepening the Gallery's future collaboration with the artists from this creative enclave of the East.



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