A joint exhibition by Japanese designer Hiromi Inayoshi and artist Karipbek Kuyukov from Kazakhstan was held Nov. 19 at the Nippon Press Center Building in Tokyo.
Inayoshi has been involved in social activism since 1996, deploying global-scale art-aid projects for peace, including Picture Book Without Pictures, which aims to establish a nuclear-free world through art.
As the title suggests, each book has only the story on the left-hand pages and the right pages are blank, on which anyone can draw their pictures freely to complete their own book. Since its launch in 2009, the project has been adopted by many schools in Japan for peace education.
One of the many victims of nuclear testing by the former Soviet Union in Kazakhstan, artist Kuyukov was born without arms, but he overcame many challenges in life, and has painted many works using his mouth and legs. He serves as the honorary ambassador of the Atom Project, an international initiative launched by the Kazakhstan government in 2012 to build global support for a permanent end to nuclear weapons testing and total abolition of nuclear weapons.
With the support of the Embassy of Kazakhstan, the exhibition presented the books done through the Picture Book Without Pictures project and Kuyukov’s major paintings, which depict nuclear testing, and the people and nature of Kazakhstan.
During the event, Kazakhstan Ambassador Akylbek Kamaldinov mentioned the decision in 1991 by Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev to shut the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. Around 500 nuclear tests were conducted there from 1949 to 1989, which affected around 1.5 million people and contaminated a vast area of land. He also expressed his gratitude for the support of the people and the government of Japan for people suffering from the effects of radiation in Kazakhstan.
Inayoshi, who attended the event, said, “I was impressed by the fact that the ambassador of the Atom Project is an artist and was inspired by Kuyukov’s way of life.”
Kuyukov, who was visiting Japan at the invitation of the organizers, called for international support and attention for a nuclear-weapons-free-world, and introduced an online petition at the official website of the Atom Project, which is open to individuals around the world.
The exhibition was held in Hiroshima on Nov. 20 and in Nagasaki on Nov. 21.