The Art of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
In recent years, neighboring countries such as China, South Korea, and Taiwan have made progress in researching modern and contemporary art, and opportunities to view this progress, such as at exhibitions, have increased in Japan. However, brisk artistic activities have largely been unheard of in the North of Japan, even in regions such as Sakhalin which is presently Russian territory. Mr. Hisashi YAKOU’s (Hokkaido University) presentation at a seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on March 26th entitled, “The Art of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands” was very fascinating as he described artistic trends in this region based on field work after the Second World War.
As Sakhalin was a Japanese territory prior to the Second World War, the landscape was depicted by Japanese painters such as Shoji KIMURA (1905–91) and Kojiro FUNAZAKI (1900–87). It became a territory of the Soviet Union after the war, and Russian painters created motifs based on this region. The painter Givi Mantkava (1930–2003) who moved there from Georgia depicted the landscape of the Far East, applying a modernistic technique and laid the foundation of Sakhalin art. Numerous artists from Moscow and Vladivostok visited Kunashir (Kunashiri) Island and Shikotan Island. Among them, the activities of the Shikotan Group attracted particular attention as they spent several months of almost every summer in Shikotan Island from 1966 to 1991. Of their works, landscape paintings of Mt. Chachadake on Kunashir Island and the bay area in particular are suggestive of traditional western paintings themes, for example, on a view of Naples. Mr. YAKOU made the intriguing point that there may exist a political intent in terms of the Europeanization of the border area.