The following is an interview with MP L.Enkh-Amgalan, highlighting his new gallery, career and Blue Pearl project.
-Congratulations on opening a gallery with your own art collection.
-I first exhibited my collection in the Museum of Fine Arts in 2008 and didn’t exhibit for a long time. Later, I opened a gallery named “Q.” This gallery is not only mine; my collected works and other artist’s works will always be displayed. With this, I’m aiming to make it a heritage foundation of pieces by Mongolian artists of all time. It’s also possible to open an exhibition with compositions containing the Mongolian culture and traditions, of photographers, and snuff-boxes and stamp collectors. Mongolia has many great artists and is exhibiting more and more galleries. However, most Mongolian artists are not able to make their work global. This is connected to the lack of arts management and promotion in the country. Therefore, by utilizing the gallery, I want to create opportunities for Mongolian artists’ to be displayed on international exhibitions and make albums and series with their artworks. Artworks of notable Mongolian artists, such as Do.Bold, Sh.Chimed, Ts.Narangerel and Ts.Enkhjargal, and late R.Dunnkherjav and Yo.Ulziikhutag that are not publicly available, and are stored in few collectors’ homes.
-When did you start collecting arts?
-I’ve been collecting for about ten years.
-In total, how many artworks do you have in your collection?
-I displayed some 80 pieces in the gallery. In total, I have eight hundred artworks. Every artwork will be displayed in a series.
-Only those who actively collect things knows how and from where to enrich their collection. Where do your artworks come from?
-I like visiting artists’ workshops during the weekends. I’m stay in touch with family members of renowned artists. I’m currently in touch with family members of the late D.Amgalan, S.Dondog, S.Tsevegjav and R.Suinherjab. They trust me and give some of their artworks. I dislike saying that they sold it to me or that I bought it. Instead I think of it as something that is giving to me for safe keeping. This is not a bargain.
Many Mongolian artworks were exported. Ts.Ekhtuvshin brought back many artworks exported to Korea. In my view, collectors are people who keep and protect cultural heritages.
-Have you ever sought to bring back artworks that were sold to foreign collectors, or even purchased them for a much higher price?
-I brought back “Goviin Ih Nuudel”(Great Gobi Movement) by N.Tsultem from Korea. There are some pieces I want to bring back from Korea and America.
-You are also writing a book about fine arts?
-With an American publishing company, I’m writing a book named “Fine Arts of Mongolia.” Through this book, I will show how Mongolia affected arts and cultures of other countries during the Mongolian Empire with cultural and historic monuments and cave drawings in Mongolia. I will also illustrate the impacts of Mongolia to Persia during Il Khaad (13-14th century).
In general, Mongolian history is recorded by wars and military. There are many documents about how fine arts and culture flourished during Yuan Empire in museums in Taiwan. I’m also including Mongolian arts in museums in Taiwan, Turkey, London, and New-York and in the State Library of Berlin. In fact, if we want to develop tourism, we need to take care of our culture and traditions.
We need more museums. Just as we established dinosaur museums, why can’t we establish a museum with artefacts from the Khunnu era?
Thousands of tourist queue to see museums featuring the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, in Louvre, Hermitage and Amsterdam. Similar to this, Mongolian tourism sector has a huge potential if we build museums of artefacts that has been kept until now.
-Do you paint? Are you good with brushes and inks?
-I don’t draw. I was very close with famous painters Do.Bold and L.Ganbold when I was studying at the Saint Petersburg University in Russia. This might have influenced my interest in arts. From another perspective, my profession, journalism bonded me with arts.
There are many art collectors in Mongolia, including President Ts.Elbegdorj, the Secretary of National Security Council of Mongolia Ts.Ekhtuvshin, MP B.Batbayar, Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar and CEO of MCS group J.Od.
-Was your family of artistic background?
-No. My father is from Ikh-Uul soum of Khuvsgul Province. I’m the tenth child of eleven siblings in my family. My father had 15 siblings. My father was a truck driver and my mother was a nurse.
-Can you share some of your good memories of your student days, studying journalism at the Saint Petersburg University?
-In 1989, I was one of the representative students to study in Russia in accordance with the first meeting of the Democratic Union. I went there without informing my family. My father said that he first heard of the news on the radio. It might be because my father recognized social changes, but he didn’t have any hard feelings about it. My brother who was in Erdenet Province was very worried.
-Do you miss your profession of journalism?
-I’m a lucky man. As soon as I came back after graduating, I worked as an assistant of G.Akim for four to five years. I used to show my articles to G.Akim, Batbayar and L.Khurelbaatar of the theater. From 1992 to 1995, I worked as the general secretary of Il Tovchoo newspaper and Montsame Agency.
Great people like Erdene Senge and Dashbalbar Ochirbat used to come to our agency and give interviews. This was an amazing fate for me. At the time, I used to transport rare books from Russia as it was a time of change and restoration. Our newspaper tried to introduce investigative journalism to Mongolia and was called several times to the police.
When I became the general secretary, our newspaper published 17 thousand copies of each issue, sometimes even 25 thousand. With the help of Nepco Company, I translated a book titled “Lectures of Nobel Prize.” Additionally, with MP S.Byambatsog, we co-founded Khogjliin Garts (Gateway of Development) club and published a book about development secrets of world leading countries. This might be one indication of my longing for my profession.
-Why didn’t you work as a journalist?
-In 1994, I was given the opportunity to study investigative journalism with a financial support from the Freedom Forum of America for eight months. I learnt that I needed to live like Americans and start a business to shape my life. I found the American dream, where everyone can live prosperously and I needed to work for it to come true. I travelled on a train with the founder of the company Allen Newhart for five days.
He established a huge publishing company despite having not a single dime. He gifted his own biography and I read it enthusiastically. After returning from America, I remembered G.Akim’s words that we should form daily, weekly and holiday newspapers and magazines because newspaper is a huge enterprise. In 1995, I entered the business world and founded MCS.
After founding Unitel, MCS Electronics, IT Zone, MCS Com and Univision companies, I worked as the chairman. Like this, I worked in the IT sector and I don’t think far from my original profession.
-When you first entered the business world, was it interesting?
-Newspaper was the first step of business. After founding Infopress, I first met with the president of MCS Group J.Odjargal in 1995 and co-founded Interpress. At the time, I started with 30 thousand USD and after five months, the investments were paid back. I started working not just in publishing but also in the IT sector.
Obviously, it was thanks to meeting good partners that my business flourished. Fate probably made me enter the world of business. The people who influenced my life the most are G.Akim, Gurdava Renbuchi and the founders of MCS Group J.Od and J.Odjargal.
-Can you talk about your family?
-I have a son and a daughter. My wife is a lawyer and my daughter is in high school. We lived with another family in Sansar after we got married. Our eldest son was born in 1993. He was named Khasbilegt by novelist J.Bold-Erdene.
-Finally, can you tell us about the “Khukh Suvd”(Blue Pearl) project?
-Khuvsgul Lake is not just for the people of Khuvsgul Province. It’s both Mongolian and world resource. It makes up two percentage of the world and 98 percent of Mongolia’s clean water reservoir. Khuvsgul Council in Ulaanbaatar, Baldorj Foundation, Unuudur Newspaper, Channel MN-25 Television and non-government organization Khuvsgul Dalain Ezed (Owners of Khuvsgul Ocean) are working together to implement this project.
There are around 40 vehicles at the bottom of Khuvsgul Lake. There are two vehicles that were transporting fuel. The vehicles fell into the lake while driving over it in winter. With the aim to clean Mother Lake these vehicles were located by Japanese scientists last summer. In order to complete the project, it is being approached by the Asian Development Bank. The Asian Development Bank informed that it’s ready to finance only if the Ministries of Environment and Green Development of Mongolia, Economic Developments and Culture, Sports and Tourism supports the project. We are asking ministries to support the project. If the project is approved, we can start taking out the vehicles from Khuvsgul Lake this summer.
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