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"Ukrainian and Japanese Women Artists unite to honor Vincent Van Gogh on the 133rd Anniversary of His Passing"

As the world eagerly awaits the much-anticipated Van Gogh exhibition at Sampo Museum in Tokyo this October and currently visits the ongoing exhibition "Van Gogh in Auvers" at his museum in Amsterdam (scheduled until mid-September), the enigmatic departure of Vincent Van Gogh from Auvers-sur-Oise continues to intrigue, 133 years after his passing. Amidst the historical ambiguity surrounding his untimely demise, art historians and enthusiasts alike grapple with the mystery of whether it was suicide or something darker that led to his fateful departure. Yet, Van Gogh's legacy persists through his mesmerizing artworks, poignant letters, and the captivating stories that continue to captivate audiences worldwide.

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It is no secret that Van Gogh drew inspiration from several artists of the past, and one of them was the British woman artist Helen Allingham. Her illustrations and watercolors enchanted him, and he held her art in high regard.

Today women artists visit Van Gogh area to be inspired for their upcoming exhibition in Tokyo. Two contemporary artists, Ukrainian Zoia Skoropadenko and Japanese Kina Sato, paid tribute to Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise. They visited the charming and thriving town, starting with the small museum dedicated to the French 19th-century artist Daubigny, who also worked there long before Van Gogh. Later, they had lunch and coffee at an authentic local café, where the atmosphere seemed reminiscent of the people depicted in Van Gogh's famous painting, "The Potato Eaters.”

Skoropadenko is a famous Ukrainian artist who has many ties with Japan, her sculpture The Hope in Fukushima created to support local people was inaugurated by Ukrainian Embassy in Soma city in 2016. Like Van Gogh she was inspired by spring blossoms and for many years she was coming to Japan in time of sakura blossoms to create her worldfamous series “Sakura at night”.

In the late afternoon, Skoropadenko and Sato visited the cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise to pay their respects by placing field flowers on the graves of numerous artists who have been associated with the village over the centuries. The list of artists who visited or lived in Auvers includes renowned names such as Paul Cézanne, Charles-François Daubigny, Camille Pissarro, and Corot. Even during the 20th century, artists like Henri Rousseau, Otto Freundlich, and Pierre Daboval continued to be drawn to Auvers. The COBRA artist Corneille spent his final years there and was buried near Vincent van Gogh's grave in 2010.

Although time has progressed, Auvers has retained its charm, and new businesses, like small restaurants, chocolate shops, and funky antique stores, have thrived thanks to the fame of the Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh. The environment remains largely unchanged, with the same fields, woods, and even the preserved roots of trees that Van Gogh once painted.

Skoropadenko and Sato climbed the Auvers hills, sketching and painting the same landscapes that were depicted in Van Gogh's final works, such as "Wheat Field with Crows" and scenes of potato farmers harvesting their crop, the famous church, the manor of Charles-François Daubigny, and the auberge where the Dutch artist passed away.

Kina Sato, inspired by Van Gogh's love for Japanese prints, incorporates wavy lines and bright colors in her art. She takes it a step further by adding contemporary neon reds and iridescent blues, creating artwork that strikingly complements the bold colors of the old master.

On the other hand, Skoropadenko excels in Japanese ink drawings, drawing inspiration from Van Gogh's admiration for the harvest season and expansive landscapes. During her stay in Auvers, she created numerous drawings of fields, woods, and locals, which serve as studies for larger paintings.

For their upcoming exhibition titled "Paris comes to Tokyo," the two women artists are working on paintings of sunflower fields and sunflower still life, drawing inspiration not only from Van Gogh but also from the French artist Adolphe Monticelli, whom Van Gogh greatly admired and frequently wrote about to his brother Theo.

Skoropadenko and Sato are motivated by Van Gogh's words: "It is good to love many things, for therein lies strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done with love is well done."

The exhibition "Paris comes to Tokyo" will take place at Aiiima Gallery in Hirakie, Shibuya, Tokyo, from the 15th to the 20th of November 2023.

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