Mon­go­lian art

Are mod­ern Mon­go­lian art­works in­vest­ment-wor­thy? The founders of Sin­ga­pore’s The Art Fund Gallery think so, learns foo mei anne

Prestige (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

tucked into the row of 1920s con­ser­va­tion shop­houses along Cairn­hill Road, The Art Fund Gallery (TAF Gallery) is en­sconced in the good bones of a colo­nial-era space, dig­ni­fied in its creamy ex­te­rior and screened wooden win­dows. Walk past the in­con­spic­u­ous five-foot-way in front of the grey-blue main door to step into a room that tells a dif­fer­ent story: White walls fram­ing un­ex­pected tor­rents of hues and tex­tures.

It is this stark bare build­ing that re­ally sparked a trio of first-time gal­lerists — Sin­ga­pore­ans Dr Lanz Chan and Mark Foo, as well as Ar­gun Bold­khet from Mon­go­lia — to bring in a colour­ful con­tem­po­rary art col­lec­tion.

“This space is ac­tu­ally our home of­fice,” says Chan, a for­mer fund man­ager who worked in Hong Kong and China for more than a decade. He’s been back in Sin­ga­pore since 2017. “We sim­ply de­cided to dress up our new of­fice with art be­cause we had plenty of white walls as well as a pas­sion for the arts.”

But in­stead of hang­ing just one or two paint­ings and call­ing it a day, the busi­ness part­ners de­cided to bring in a 100-piece-strong col­lec­tion, con­sist­ing works from 10 Mon­go­lian artists, thus of­fer­ing a plat­form for these cre­ative names to show­case their work to the Sin­ga­pore pub­lic. By ap­point­ment only, clients can view the nat­u­ral world in man­i­fold mod­ern Mon­go­lian art­works — icono­graphic horses, camels, the Gobi desert, a sum­mer’s meadow, and more.

To­gether, Chan, Foo and Bold­khet have a wealth of pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence in varied fields, such as fi­nance, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, F&B, en­ergy and en­vi­ron­ment. They can now add art deal­ing to their pro­lific port­fo­lio.

Hav­ing come from the pri­vate bank­ing sec­tor, Chan con­tin­ues to grav­i­tate to­wards any­thing to do with in­vest­ment. “At TAF Gallery, we’re fo­cus­ing on in­vest­ment-grade art. Many peo­ple in Sin­ga­pore, in­clud­ing my mum, tend to buy print art, which could cost hun­dreds of dol­lars yet de­pre­ci­ates once it is sold. But if you buy an orig­i­nal piece, where each one is unique, it holds its value.”

Fur­ther­more, the orig­i­nal art­works for sale at TAF Gallery are among the most rea­son­ably

priced for qual­ity that’s cur­rently found in the Lit­tle Red Dot. Chan ex­plains, “We price our art at rel­a­tively lower rates as com­pared to other lo­cal gal­leries be­cause we have di­rect links to the artist. Also, this isn’t our pri­mary busi­ness. We want to help the artists.”

One artist who didn’t need much help is Shag­dar­javin Chimed­dorj, although the 64-year-old is no­to­ri­ous when it comes to part­ing ways with his high-de­mand mod­ernist works, most of which depict the fe­ro­cious body lan­guage of horses. Bold­khet, a friend and fan of Chimed­dorj, had to, in fact, “beg” for the lat­ter’s ink-on-pa­per works to be shown at the Sin­ga­pore gallery. He man­aged to se­cure 10, each care­fully framed and now sit­ting in a dark room on the sec­ond and high­est floor of TAF Gallery.

“[Chimed­dorj] is one of the most fa­mous artists in Mon­go­lia and also well-known glob­ally,” says Bold­khet, who’s work­ing on a start-up in Sin­ga­pore to pro­duce sus­tain­able en­ergy. “I oc­ca­sion­ally visit his stu­dio in Mon­go­lia to look at his new cre­ations — that’s how most col­lec­tors get their hands on his art pieces. The process could take up to a whole day and usu­ally starts with chit-chat, then some­thing to eat and drink. I’ve built a good re­la­tion­ship with him over time. I like his art be­cause of the colours. He has never been afraid to use colours and I love it.”

His Ex­cel­lency Ge­orge Lkhag­vadorj Tu­mur, the Mon­go­lian Am­bas­sador to Sin­ga­pore, who vis­ited dur­ing the gallery’s launch, agrees. He says he en­joys the va­ri­ety of art at TAF Gallery, but shows par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in Chimed­dorj’s works. “I am al­ways im­pressed with Chimid­dorj’s art­works as they have mas­ter­ful strokes by the artist to ex­press Mon­go­lian life­style with mod­ern touches.”

An up-and-comer who seems to be fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Chimid­dorj’s vigour is Erschuu Ot­gonba­yar. Bet­ter known as Otgo, this 38-yearold artis­tic ge­nius grew up on the out­skirts of Ulaan­baatar and now calls Ber­lin home. Ac­cord­ing to Chan, Otgo knows brand value and how to po­si­tion him­self. The artist’s sig­na­ture is ec­cen­tric yet sim­ple: An OTGO logo and his thumbprint hidden within his ex­pres­sive acrylic paint­ings, mostly re­flect­ing Mon­go­lia’s cul­ture of no­madic horse­men. There’s a spec­tac­u­lar op art piece by Ot­gonba­yar that show­cases over­lap­ping herds of horses gal­lop­ing across blue steppes.

But how do these art pieces fare in terms of re­turns? Chan an­swers, “Art value is a com­bi­na­tion of aes­thetic, so­cial, com­mer­cial and brand val­ues. Fine art, in­clud­ing Mon­go­lian fine art, pos­sesses in­vest­ment value over and above its base or fun­da­men­tal value over time as de­mand in­creases with ap­pre­ci­a­tion among a more so­phis­ti­cated so­ci­ety glob­ally. It is widely ex­pected for fine art to pro­duce re­turns of circa 5 per­cent on av­er­age per an­num or to dou­ble ev­ery 5 to 10 years.”

The trio is also look­ing to give back, by do­nat­ing a por­tion of art sales to a char­ity of choice. How­ever, they’ve yet to de­cide on a ben­e­fi­ciary.

Bold­khet says, “We have a big am­bi­tion and vi­sion. Our pri­or­ity now though is to help pro­mote and ex­pose young artists to all kinds of art form that is not avail­able in Sin­ga­pore or vice versa. We look to sup­port green char­i­ties gen­er­ously and are open to new part­ner­ships with those who share the same vi­sion.”

FROM LEFT: HORSE PLAY, SHAG­DAR­JAVIN CHIMED­DORJ; ROAR­ING HOOFS SILKY SKY, ERSCHUU OT­GONBA­YAR

CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT: SEA­SONS, SARANTSATSRALT SER- OD;UNDIS­CLOSED, ERDENEBAYAR MONKHOR; GOBI HERDS, NARANGEREL TSENDSUREN

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