Surrealist painting began in Japan when the Nika-kai (Second Society Association), a secessionist art forum that focused on Western-style painting, exhibited such works by Harue Koga and Seiji Togo in 1929. It was bolstered in 1931, when Ichiro Fukuzawa returned to Japan from France to show his surrealist paintings inspired by Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst.

Initially Tokyo-centric, surrealism spawned in Kyoto, with the artists Gentaro Komaki (1906-89) and Noboru Kitawaki (1901-51) at its center. The former is the subject of a small-scale retrospective now showing at The Museum of Kyoto.

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