Hokkaido University, Japan
In the mid-1960s, young Russian artists from Moscow and the cities of Vladivostok and Ussuriysk in Primorsky Krai formed the Shikotan Group, named after the island where they summered for months at a time and created thousands of landscape paintings. Their activities lasted until 1991, when the group disappeared soon after the demise of the communist regime. The area including Shikotan Island forms the southern Kuril Islands in the Okhotsk Sea. The artists fascinated with the wilderness of Shikotan’s beautiful sea coasts and rolling hills and those, who were acquainted with young women workers at the largest fish factory in Far Eastern Russia, represented Shikotan’s landscape idyllically, with a tranquil bay and a distinctive form of double volcano. A particular composition, comprising a bay in the middle plane and a distant view of the volcanic Mt. Tyatya on Kunashir Island, recalls views of Naples, a preferred stop on the Grand Tours of Europe, especially for nineteenth-century Russian artists eager to work abroad. This paper intends to reconstruct the Shikotan Group’s activities based on field research and interviews with the artists, starting with the group leader, Oleg Loshakov. Further, it aims to describe the characteristics of the style discernible in their paintings, which can be well-illustrated by comparing them with the so-called “Soviet Impressionist Paintings,” a new definition recently preferred especially by American (U. S.) collectors.