I came across Bubnova on LiveJournal, and was then happily directed onto sundry museum sites and the Wikipedia. Varvara Bubnova was born in 1886 and died in 1983, and was one of a small set of Russian emigre artists that headed not west, but east – to Japan. She spent 35 years in that country, till 1958. A puppet to politics, she found herself declared an undesirable alien in Japan in 1936, while during the war years, she was stripped of her Soviet citizenship for ‘allying with the enemy’. Evidently her citizenship was restored to her, because she was allowed to return to the USSR, spending time in Sukhumi, before settling in St Petersburg, where she spent the last years of her life.
Bubnova was one of the artists who participated in the famed Donkey’s Tail and Jack of Diamonds exhibitions in 1913, along with the likes of Tatlin, Malevich, Goncharova, Rozanova, Burliuk and Larionov.
Bubnova trained as an archaeologist and ethnographer, concentrating on the primitive art of ancient Russia and the northern peoples of Siberia. In Japan, she developed her mastery of lithography and book illustration. She also participated in exhibitions of the Japanese avant-garde, including six solo exhibitions during every decade of her sojourn in Japan.