CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


YAKOU, Hisashi
In a Borderland: Russian Artists in Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands

Session 6 Politics of Identity: Tradition and Origin

Art History at Hokkaido University, 



The main island of Sakhalin and the whole of the Kuril Islands, which compose the present Sakhalin region of Russia, were the object of dispute for Russia and Japan in demarcating national borders. The Japanese government, having lost its rule of this area with the end of World War II, still claims sovereignty over the southern part of the Kuril, where the Russian artists of the “Shikotan Group” from Moscow and Primorsky Krai were active since the mid-1960s until the demise of the Soviet Union. Their landscape paintings should have a significant role in territorializing the region on a mental and emotional level, contextualizing it from a European background and making people feel familiar with it. On the other hand, the artists of Sakhalin, whether immigrants or not, have investigated diverse aspects of the region, and represent it in a wide variety of ways. This paper surveys a not-long history of art in Sakhalin, featuring the members of the Sakhalin Branch of the Russian Union of Artists, among whom there are Korean-Russians, as well as autonomous artists. Their works will help us understand how art has contributed to developing a collective imagery of Sakhalin, adding diversified connotations (environmental, esthetical, empathetic, political, social, historical, etc.) to it, and succeeded in formulating a multi-stratified landscape.

YAKOU, Hisashi

Hisashi YAKOU is a Professor of Art History at the Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University, in Sapporo, Japan. After he earned his MA at Tohoku University, Sendai, he studied at the Universities of Siena and Rome, and worked as a curator at the Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo. His research interests include Medieval art in Italy, specifically focusing on the Franciscan order, as well as Landscape paintings of the Russian Far East. Among his articles in English and Italian are “Pictorializing the Southern Kuril Islands: The ‘Shikotan Group’ and the Artists of the Russian Far East,” in: Tetsuo Mochizuki (ed.), Beyond the Empire: Images of Russia in the Eurasian Cultural Context (Slavic Eurasian Studies, No.17), Slavic Research Center Hokkaido University, 2008, pp.71-91; “Between the Indigenous and the Exotic: Landscapes of Hokkaido and the Russian Far East,” in: Jaynie Anderson (ed.), Crossing Cultures, Conflict, Migration and Convergence, Proceedings of the 32nd Congress of the International Committee of the History of Art, Melbourne University Press, 2009, pp.777-780; “Il martirio e la missione francescana in Asia nell’arte italiana del primo Trecento,” Il Santo, LI (n. 2-3), 2011, pp. 465-474; “Tra il gotico e l'antico: Pietro Cavallini e gli affreschi ridipinti del convento di Santa Chiara a Napoli,” Hortus Artium Medievalium, 16, 2010, pp. 179-186.