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The word composition has several meanings in English, and from looking at dictionary entries, it seems it also can be translated several different ways in Japanese.

When referring specifically to composition in the context of visual arts, what term would be used in Japanese?

Surprisingly, the Wikipedia entry for composition currently has no Japanese translation.

The closest word I am aware of in Japanese is [合成]{ごうせい}, but to me that feels closer to "composite". The idea of combining in the sense of layering data more than in the sense of layout or balancing of visual elements.

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I believe the word is 構図【こうず】.

絵画・写真などで仕上がりの効果を配慮した画面の構成。コンポジション。「構図がいい写真」「斬新な構図」

It specifically gives a translation "composition".

Also I think you can use the broader concept 構成【こうせい】, which is not limited to visual arts.

文芸・音楽・造形芸術などで、表現上の諸要素を独自の手法で組み立てて作品にすること。「番組を構成する」

EDIT
構図 refers to the "result of composition", for the "act of composition" you should use 構成 or 配置.

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