By Altanshagai TSEESÜREN, Journalist, for The Mongolian Observer
Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj visited Russia in May 2015 at the invitation of his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin. During this visit, the Mongolian President had presented to Russia a sculpture called “Victory Hungry Horses”. This statue was solemnly inaugurated in Moscow on 5 May 2017 coinciding with the 72nd anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War and placed with honor in an important location in the Russian capital.
The sculpture “Victory Hungry Horses” is the work of a Mongolian sculptor Ayürzana OCHIRBOLD. He is one of Mongolia’s promising budding talents to whose credit are some outstanding pieces of sculptures called “Amur”, “Buur Jamyan”, “Demüül The Lion”, “Prince Chingünjav of Khodgoid”, “The Clever Princess Mandukhai”.
“I had known from very early on that this sculpture would find its honorable place. So, I was less emotional when the statue was actually inaugurated in Moscow,” said Ochirbold when I met him in his studio, a living museum of its own. “I was busy when this memorable event took place and so I could not go to Moscow when the statue Victory Hungry Horses was inaugurated. I had a chance to see on the news the landmark event for me and the event was organized as it deserved to be. I am personally very happy,” he said. The idea for this sculpture Victory Hungry Horses was first made by B. Ganbayar, the CEO of Mongol Global Company.
Ochirbold continued with excitement in his voice “On the one hand this was a great momentous event because with the erection of the statue in downtown Moscow the Mongolians will always be remembered for their sincere contribution to fighting against fascism. This memory will be passed on for hundreds of years from one generation to another.”
The sculpture Victory Hungry Horses is 11 meters long, 3 meters wide and 2.40 meters tall. It weighs 7 tons and according to Ochirbold, the statue is guaranteed for 1000 years. The pedestal, on which the horses stand, is made of granite and the statue itself is made of bronze.
During the height of the Second World War, the Mongolian people had given in gift to the Soviet Red Army more than 500 Mongolian horses. And every fifth horse that were used by the Soviet Red Amy soldiers on the war front were Mongolian horses.
Sculptor Ochirbold shared his story about how the sculpture was created.
“My grandparents live in the countryside and every summer I used to go visit them for my summer holidays. When it rains horses and other livestock get stuck in the sodden ground. The entire soum would be mobilized to pull them out of the thick wet soil. Animals that get stuck in the wet ground, when they are pulled out they are covered thick in soil and their legs become frail and weak. That scene first before my eyes when I first started planning for my future sculpture. I then thought ‘What a tough job it must have been for the horses to pull the heavy weaponry.’ And if you look at the sculpture Victory Hungry Horses you can feel that the horses are wasted and exhausted, but they look determined to move on towards victory, and that’s why I called it the Victory Hungry Horses.”
One of his previous works called the “Red Tornado” can be found near the Ulaanbaatar International Airport at the Mongolian Hippodrome.
Ochirbold told me about the “Red Tornado.”
“The Red Tornado is a Guardian horse. Mongolians believe that horses protect you from evil spirits. Mongolian love and respect horses and no wonder our country’s state emblem carries a depiction of a horse, which is the guardian spirit and perhaps it’s the horse that protect the guardian spirit too. The Red Tornado is depicted with its head looking backwards as if this stallion is looking for a danger from behind – perhaps a pack of hungry wolves. A stallion is a wonderful animal, and when it runs its mane appear like huge red flames piercing the sky. I don’t think there is any other animal so majestic and powerful as a stallion with its mane flying and fluttering in the breeze. I created the Red Tornado to become a symbol of guardian spirit,” said Ochirbold.
Most of his works are about horses and he believes that he need not necessary create horses that look alike as if from a postcard photo.
Sculptor A. Ochirbold launched his first solo exhibition “Colorless Color” in 2013, putting on display only the steel works and his first maiden exhibition turned out to a crowd drawer.
“In order to make a steel sculpture, the surface must be even and smooth. And so, if someone wants to create a work of art in the realistic genre, steel is not the best material though. I use metal chips, stone, cloth and clay, literally all kinds of materials in my works,” Ochirbold said.
Ochirbold took part in the NordArt 2015 International Art Exhibition with his work called “Der Mensch ist Kein Überfluss der Erde,” which won him the Audience Award (Photo right).
NordArt is one of the largest juried exhibition of contemporary art in Europe, representing all facets of visual arts. Yearly thousands of artists from more than 100 countries apply for NordArt which is held in the town of Büdelsdorf, Germany.
He is planning to take part in international art exhibitions this year also.
“A man of arts too has his own dreams and aspirations and one of them is to take part in prestigious international art exhibition,” said Ochirbold. “When I talk about international art exhibition, I feel an urge to talk about statues of geniuses made in foreign countries and such statues, normally, try to impart food for thought for the brain. I feel that such works of sculpture give a lot to the people. I feel that we need to have many similar statues in Ulaanbaatar. There is no need to make statues of cheap materials that will not last long because they cannot become history. We need to make statues that are everlasting and are valuable,” remarked Ochirbold, in a way exposing his inner world and thinking.
As a young artist Ochirbold made no attempt to shroud his concern that historical stone monuments and contemporary sculptures are not being taken proper care of in the country. For instance, in Viva City, a residential estate in Ulaanbaatar, stands his work called “The Clever Princess Mandukhai” and he had made the bow and arrows of the princess with some gold, but they were stolen, “which is a pity” Ochirbold remarked at the end, “as I wanted to add some value to this piece of art.”