Figueres, 28 May 2015
The Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí's Centre for Dalinian Studies has enriched its library with a little-known publication: the Japanese translation of the poetry collection Les Dessous d'une vie ou la pyramide humaine, by Paul Éluard (1926), which appeared in 1937. The book, translated by the poet and artist Yamanaka Chiryu, includes four illustrations by Salvador Dalí, two of which are signed and dated 1935.
Only one hundred copies of this beautifully produced book of poems were published in Japan. Two versions were printed with covers in different colours -sky blue or red-, with one of Dalí's illustrations on them. The book is made up of twenty sheets of hand-made Japanese paper, with text printed on both sides, and five further sheets of thick white paper with plates by the painter. On the frontispiece, there is a portrait of Paul Éluard.
Yamanaka Chiryu (1905-1977), known as "Tiroux", was one of the Japanese poets who introduced surrealism into his country during the 1930s. Chiryu became aware of this artistic movement thanks to his work for the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation NHK. He made contact with André Breton and Paul Éluard (with whom he corresponded continuously until Éluard's death) and other surrealists, promoting international exchange among them.
Both in his magazine Ciné and later in Mizué, Yamanaka's articles enthusiastically disseminated the western avant-garde movements: Dadaism and surrealism. In 1937, in collaboration with fellow poet and artist Takiguchi Shuzo (1903-1979), he organised the Exhibition of Overseas Surrealist Works in the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya. The exhibition had a profound impact on the avant-garde artistic movements in Japan, as well as on Japanese society, which was wary of these new trends. The following year, in the Dictionnaire abrégé du Surréalisme, published on the occasion of the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme in Paris, Yamanaka and Takiguchi were named as "promoters of the surrealist movement in Japan".