Nikakai [Society of Progressive Japanese Artists] [二科会] (1914--) By Loh Kazuhara, Eve
The Nikakai, or Second Section Association, was established in 1914 as a reaction to the Japanese government-sponsored exhibition known as the Bunten. The motivation behind the formation of the Nikakai was prompted by events happening within the Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) category at the Bunten. In 1912, officials at the Bunten divided Nihonga into two sections, with the additional section catering for submissions that were considered more progressive or that belonged to the “new faction” [Shinp] [新派]. The Yôga (Western-style) artists, on the other hand, increasingly felt similar dissatisfactions with the judging panel and wanted a separate category also. In 1913, a petition was made for their demands but was rejected. As a result, the Nikakai was set up the following year by Yamashita Shintarô [山下新太郎] (1881–1966), Ishii Hakutei [石井栢亭] (1882–1958) and other artists. The association also organizes exhibitions known as the Nikaten, which accepts submissions for painting (excluding Nihonga), sculpture, design and photography. Members of the Nikakai are said to be forbidden to submit to government-sponsored exhibitions such as the Bunten and Teiten. Today the association remains the largest independent oil painting organization in Japan.