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Kakuo Shinkai Exhibition

Kakuo Shinkai (新海覚雄)



Primarily known for his painting and lithography, Kakuo Shinkai (新海覚雄) was an important artist in the tradition of realism art in Japan. Born in Hongo, Tokyo in 1904 as the eldest son of the well-known sculptor, Taketarō Shinkai (新海竹太郎), Shinkai was actively involved in the post-war art movement until his death in 1968. During his career spanning over half-a-decade, Shinkai actively created paintings from a humanist stance, depicting the reality of people struggling in poverty, illness, and the degrading living conditions. In his post-war work, beginning around the late 1940s, he worked on lithograph and etching to address such social issues as the prohibition of nuclear and hydrogen bombs and the anti-U.S. base protest movement, particularly, the Sunagawa Struggle (砂川闘争) and the Uchinada Struggle (内灘闘争). In the 60s, he toured around Asia and Europe to actively present his art pieces in museums and exhibitions across the continents.


The chronological table below traces Shinkai’s life and career, and provides a brief background of his work. His art pieces held at the Ohara Institute for Social Research can be browsed in the following pages.



Life event





Born in Hongō, Tokyo  (東京市本郷区) on December 2, as the eldest son of the well-known sculptor, Taketarō Shinkai (新海竹太郎 1868-1927).










Graduated from Ikubunkan Junior College (郁文館中学校) and began studying Western painting under Takeji Fujishima (藤島武二 1867-1943) at Kawabata Ga-gakkō (Kawabata School of Painting 川端画学校), and Hakutei Ishii (石井柏亭 1882-1958) at Taiheiyō Gakai Kenkyujyo. Institute for the Taiheiyō Art Association 太平洋画会研究所).





One of his paintings was accepted by the exhibition organized by the Taiheiyō Art Association (太平洋画会). He then became a member of the association.












Joined Yokoyama Jun’nosuke and others to hold the Verumu-kai Exhibition (ヴェルム会展). Woman with a basket 『籠を持つ婦人像』 was exhibited at the Central Art Exhibition (中央美術展), after which his work continued to be accepted by various exhibitions including the Nika Art Exhibition (二科展) in which his work was exhibited for the first time in 1926 and his painting and sculpture were both exhibited in 1928.





Joined Iwao Uchida (内田巌 1900₋1953), Jyunji Yoshii (吉井淳二1904₋2004) and others to establish an art collective, Kaneto-sha (鉦人社).


Kaneto-sha developed into New Artist Association (新美術家協会).





Presented three of his art pieces including The Record of 1932 『1932年の記録』, Unemployed 『失業者』, and Old Captain 『老船長』 at the New Artist Association Confederation Exhibition.




Relocated to Shimoochiai, Yodobashi-ku Tokyo (東京市淀橋区下落合).





Submitted his work to Gayu-ten (画友展), for the relief of Tōki Okamoto (岡本唐貴 1903-1986) who was being imprisoned and tortured for his belief.




Traveled to Korea, Manchuria, and North China in the course of three months.


Became a member of the artist collective, Issui-kai (一水会).


Relocated to Amanuma, Suginami-ku Tokyo (東京市杉並区天沼)





Received the Patriotic Association Award (美術報国会賞) at the Imperial War Art Exhibition (大東亜戦争美術展) for his painting, Saving for the Nation 『貯蓄報国』.




Took part in the founding of the Japan Art Association (日本美術会) which aimed at democratizing the post-war art world.




Exhibited his work at the Second Indépendant Exhibition (アンデパンダン展).












Published a monograph Käthe Kollwitz The Era, Human and Art (『ケーテ・コルヴィッツーーその時代・人・芸術』 八月書房) and in the following year, joined the foundation of Nihon Bunkajin Kaigi (日本文化人会議). The Japan Federation of Public Workers Unions (日本自治団体労働組合総連合) asked him to present his art piece One day at Employment Security Office 『ある日の職安』 to the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (中華全国総工会).



Presented Though we became independent 『独立はしたが』 at the 6th Indépendant Exhibition and the 14th Issui-kai Exhibition.













After being elected as the executive director of the Japan Art Association (日本美術会), he visited Uchinada to show his support for the Uchinada Struggle (内灘闘争) with Genjirō Mita (箕田源二郎1918-2000) who was also a member of the association, where he drew sketches of the people in protest. In the following year, he was requested by the National Railway Workers’ Union (国鉄労連) to produce Demonstration in the Platform 『構内デモ』 which was later exhibited at the National Railway Hall (国鉄労働会館).












Took part in the labour struggle at the Japan Steel Muroran Plant (日本製鋼室蘭製作所). He became a founding member of the Kokumin Bunka Kaigi (国民文化会議) and sat on its committee as an art branch member. As a frequent visitor to the site of the Sunagawa Struggle, he drew sketches of those in struggle, and nineteen of which were exhibited at the 8th Indépendant Exhibition.





Participated in the artists’ meeting against the revision of the Police Duties Execution Act (警察官職務執行法), joined the protest march and collected petition for this cause.







Joined Genjirō Mita and Tadashi Nakayama (中山正 1927₋2014) on trip to Kyushu and organized the Color Print Exhibition in support for the Mitsui Miike Labour Struggle (三井三池争議支援激励色紙展).





Presented his work at the 1st Contemporary Japanese Etching Exhibition (第一回現代日本の版画展) held at the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow.







Exhibited Demonstration in the Platform and Though we became independent at the Contemporary Japanese Art Grand Exhibition (現代日本美術大展覧会), held at the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow.



Submitted his work for the Japanese Etching Exhibitions (日本版画展) in East Germany, Romania, and Indonesia.





Presented Let’s Achieve the True Independence 『真の独立を闘いとろう』 at the 17th Indépendant Exhibition and submitted his work to the Japan China Etching Exhibition (日本中国版画交流展).








Submitted Human-made Disaster (Keloid) 『人災(ケロイド)』 for the National Book Printing Exhibition at Leipzig, East Germany and received the Art Graphic Silver Medal. In the same year, he and Tadashige Ono (小野忠重 1909₋1990) held a Woodblock Printing Exhibition (版画二人展).











Joined Setsu Asakura (朝倉摂1922-2014), Tadayoshi Sato (佐藤忠良1912-2011), Iri Maruki (丸木位里 1901-1995), and Toshiko Akamatsu (赤松俊子 1912-2000) to exhibit their work at the Exhibition for Five Japanese Artists (日本人美術家五人展) in Leningrad, Tbilisi (Georgia), Yerevan (Armenia) and other places, during which he visited the Soviet Union with Iri Maruki and Toshiko Akamatsu.








Founded the Creative Artist Association (創作画人協会) with Iri Maruki, Toshiko Akamatsu, Rojin Tanaka (田中路人 1925-2002) and Tōki Okamoto. On the 10th of August, he died of heart failure at the age of 63 and was put to rest at Tama Cemetery (多磨霊園) where his father was buried.




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Updated date:2022.10.26