ESCAPEMENT ART steps into the ethnographical field and presents to you a first-ever contemporary interpretation of ainu-e by Yoh Nagao. The Ainu is aboriginal people who once inhabited Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands. Their culture and traditions differ completely from those of the people who live on mainland of Japan.
Yoh Nagao is passionate about ethnography. After his vast artistic research on distant in space and time cultures, Yoh focuses today on his ancestors' cultural background.
Yoh Nagao reinterprets the photographs, artifacts, and scarce documentation preserved at museums worldwide, including the famous ainu-e from the Edo period. The unusual appearance and primitive lifestyle of the Ainu were intriguing and amusing for the Japanese middle classes from the cities, who were the major consumers of these works. The demand for ainu-e (paintings depicting aspects of the lives of the Ainu), was satisfied by painters, who visited these islands to depict the daily routines of the Ainu. Often the painters lived together with the Ainu for several months or even years, using their skills to demonstrate authentic depictions of the mysterious indigenous people of the Japanese islands.
In the Living History series by Yoh Nagao the Ainu people come along well with the consumer habits of today: the protagonists get dressed in luxury brands as well as their living surroundings get decorated with well-recognized artifacts from Japanese pop culture.