By Natalie Ferris
Through the dappled April sunshine of Hyde Park, a throbbing of drums echoes in the air. Cries to ceremony rise-and-fall, deep and resonant as the thuds of the drum, hailing an imminent arrival. Flashes of colour fritter Cumberland Gate, acrobats peal away in celebratory somersaults, and deep blue flags are raised for the procession to begin. Stiffly bound in bright silk, heads bowed and stride steady, they follow him. And the shrouded figure looms large.
Halcyon Gallery have brought the nomadic spirit to London. Gathered for the unveiling of Dashi Namdakov’s magisterial bronze sculpture, Genghis Khan, this marks the momentous journey’s end of an artist alive in his itinerance. Born in the borderlands between Russia and Mongolia, his sculpture is born of the ancient mythology of his Buryati heritage, the dynamism of his craftsman’s understanding and the celestial beings of his imagination, to comprise his ‘Nomad’s Universe.’ As the sun glints through the trees, Udi Sheleg, Chairman of the Halcyon Group, raises a toast to a reticent man he was to discover three years ago in a small studio in Moscow .
Mist billows across Marble Arch as the dark cloth is finally stripped back to reveal a towering Genghis Khan astride his malevolent warhorse. Wraught as if from a mythical material, the figure poised upon the plinth glowers green with a mollifying sovereignty. The horse is straining, face etched with determination, as Genghis Khan balances above with an ethereal poise. Namdakov casts his eyes askance as his masterpiece – two years in the making – is unveiled, believing that the radiance of the midday sun is truly that of Mongolia, ‘shining down on us all.’ Cast in solemn bronze, this semblance of prowess is not merely that of immovable strength. Namdalov’s figure may bristle with taught muscle, warrior armour and golden iconography, but it is the serenity of his expression that is so striking. As if descending from the clouds above, but one element of Namdakov’s fantastical universe has graced us with his presence.
Specially commissioned for Marble Arch, the sculpture speaks of the Halcyon Gallery’s commitment to a public engagement with art. As generously voiced by Paul Green, President of the Halcyon Gallery, in his opening speech, ‘everyone should have the opportunity to interact with art.’ This is a sentiment echoed by Mr. Yondongiin Otgonbayar, the Mongolian Minister for Education, Culture and Science, in which here this ‘thoroughly modern man’ is revealed by Namdakov, in all his resplendent glory. As only one of several other current public installations inaugurated by Halcyon throughout London, Namdakov’s Genghis Khan provides a focalising moment of calm amidst the crossroads of London’s busy West-End. Standing tall throughout London’s hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games, the sculpture exemplifies the warrior fervour of competition, yet also vaunts that essential tranquility of perseverance.
Rallying London to stand tall and be counted, arms outstretched and hair splaying in the wind, Genghis Khan’s magnanimous eye will watch over London’s athletic festivities until September. Trailing at the heels, Namdakov’s beguiling world of purity and peculiarity will take wing at the Halcyon’s 144-146 New Bond Street space from 9th May to the 7th July, revealing forty-five supernal sculptures and drawings to the public in A Nomad’s Universe.
Some close-up photos:
Press in the UK:
John Man, the author of “Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection” up against a Labour councillor, “…who was wondering about the suitability of honouring a mass-murderer in London? John Mann “…countered with Genghis’s historical significance and the importance of displaying great art…”
Press in Mongolia: http://www.infomongolia.com/ct/ci/3851
Halcyon Gallery Press Follow-up: Courtesy of Halcyon Gallery
Piers Allardyce, Tatler photographer
Anushka Gantumur, Art Cafe at Lingua Global