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Toru Asanu

(b Fukuoka, Gunma Prefect., Jan 18, 1898; d Tokyo, Oct 16, 1992).

Japanese painter. In 1918 he entered the literature department of Tokyo University; however, a liking for sculpture made him turn his attention to fine art. Travelling to France to research European art (1924) caused his interest to shift from sculpture to painting. From c. 1929 he was influenced by Surrealism and, stimulated by the collages of Max Ernst, he produced such works as Another’s Love and Science Blinds Beauty (both 1930; Takasaki, Gunma Prefect. Mus. Mod. A.). In 1931, shortly before his return to Japan, he sent 37 Yōga (Western-style) paintings to the first exhibition of the Dokuritsu Bijutsu Kyōkai (Independent Art Society). The ironic, witty and sharp punning nature of these pieces had hitherto not been seen in Japanese painting. Their display caused a great sensation in Yōga circles.

Although the influence of Surrealism had already begun to permeate Japanese art circles, Fukuzawa’s return in summer 1931...


Toru Asano

(b Kurume, June 18, 1895; d Tokyo, Sept 10, 1933).

Japanese painter. After leaving school in 1912, he went to Tokyo to study at the Taiheiyō Painting Study Centre and the Japanese Watercolour Study Centre. He painted in watercolour until 1918, when he began to paint in oils also. His early interest in Cézanne developed into Cubism. In Kannon (1921; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.), a Cubist technique is used in a work composed of both realistic and non-realistic images. In 1922 he received the Nika Prize for Burial (1922; Kyoto, Chion’in), which is in the manner of André Lhôte’s work, and he was one of those who founded the avant-garde group Action.

In 1925 Koga came under the influence of Paul Klee, producing works with fantastic, poetic qualities such as Moonflower (1926; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.) and Fireworks (1927; Kamakura, priv. col., see Furukawa, pl. 14); from 1929 he was drawn to Surrealism, producing works such as ...


Shigeo Chiba

(b Toyama, Toyama Prefect., Dec 7, 1903; d Tokyo, Jan 1, 1979).

Japanese writer and critic. He was already fascinated by Surrealism when he graduated from the English Department of Keio University, Tokyo, in 1931, and had translated André Breton’s Le Surréalisme et la peinture (Paris, 1928) in 1930. He also had a profound concern for the visual arts, regarding Surrealism as a ‘metamorphosis of the power of poetry’. In his major work Kindai geijutsu (‘Modern art’) he discussed the opposition between abstract art and Surrealism as a means of identifying the nature of contemporary art. Because of his involvement with art movements, in 1941, with Ichirō Fukuzawa, he was arrested by the political police, who regarded Surrealism as a branch of the Communist Party, and he was detained for eight months.

After World War II and particularly during the 1950s, Takiguchi continued to be involved with art movements and wrote criticism in which he showed a sharp sensitivity capable of detecting the contemporary vanguard. His translations of work by ...


Yasuyoshi Saito

(b Tokushima Prefect., Oct 8, 1919; d Kanagawa Prefect., Nov 23, 1986).

Japanese painter, printmaker, teacher and collagist . In 1937 he graduated from the Kagawa Prefectural Technical School, and the following year he went to Tokyo and studied at the Fukuzawa Institute for the Study of Painting, where be became fascinated by Surrealist painting. In 1939 his military service took him to China, where he served in the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45). His experiences of the atrocities of war deeply affected him, and he became vehemently anti-war. In 1946 he was involved in forming the Nihon Bijutsukai (Japan Art Society) and in 1947 he helped found the Zen’ei Bijutsukai (Avant-garde Art Society). In 1953 he took part in the first Nippon Ten (Japan exhibition), showing Tale of Akebono Village at Dawn (1953; priv. col., see exh. cat., p. 37), which portrayed with black humour an uprising of villagers protesting at repression.

Yamashita’s commitment to Surrealism became total, and he was determined to expose social injustices through his style of painting (e.g. ...