The post-war Japanese poster, especially from the second half of the 20th century onwards, undoubtedly opens the most interesting pages in the whole history of the poster in the world. Japanese designers aptly linked the hundreds of years of national print and painting tradition with current trends in modern art. The situation itself was favourable because many of the elements of such distant origins revealed a number of common features. The Japanese designers' achievement was the fact that they noticed those similarities and used them creatively in their designs. Thus a very original school of poster appeared, placed on an equal position to, in not higher position than, the concurrently developing "Polish school of poster" or the Swiss poster with its "Swiss Style".
The Japanese poster has revealed many outstanding personalities who have gained world-wide acclaim. Unfortunately, many of those designers who created the foundations of Japanese poster have passed away. At the exhibition at the State Gallery of Art in Sopot we present a selection of the works from three of them: Yusaku Kamekura (1915 – 1997), Ikko Tanaki (1930 – 2002) and Shigeo Fukuda (1935 – 2009). Japanese people pay much attention to the classification of designers in accordance with their generations. There are several classifications of this type, which sometimes differ in the lists of names of particular artists, nevertheless, the interested milieu of designers considers them important.
Yusaku Kamekura belongs to the first post-war generation, being its most prominent representative. Notwithstanding his own creative work, he played an important role as an animator of the graphic-design milieu thanks to a series of his initiatives by which he founded several professional associations and his contribution to the organisation of poster exhibitions – initially only in the form of designs but later as printed works. Those exhibitions demonstrated the creative potential of designers and facilitated their promotion. Kamekura's own work was rooted in his fascination in Bauhaus and Western mod ernism, yet he saturated these elements with the atmosphere and effects derived from vernacular culture. The role of light and space in his poster serves as the best example of this. A separate trend in his creation is his posters using photographs. These are very carefully chosen, created in accordance with the principles of graphic composition. It was Kamekura who first used coloured photography in the history of the Olympic poster in his two works for the Tokyo Games in 1964.
In Ikko Tanaka's posters, on the one hand the allusions to the vernacular tradition are even more conspicuous, while on the other hand their very synthetic shape brings an air of attractive modernity. A frequent motif of his designs is the human face which – contrary to the Polish poster – rarely appears in Japanese designs. The artist's ability to create a face with the help of a few basic geometrical shapes arouses the greatest recognition. Additionally, Tanaka often derived from the richness of Japanese characters, both those originating in calligraphy and those based on vernacular typography. Here, his invention is as rich as it is in his figurative posters. ** Shigeo Fukuda's** output seems at first glance to be entirely different from the works of the two former artists. His passion for various surprising games, different graphic and visual tricks and illusion, the astonishing surrealist changes of the scale of objects, the construction of "impossible" objects and spatial situations alluding to Maurits Cornelis Escher's imaginary world was embedded in his genes which he inherited from his father – a toy manufacturer. His relationship with tradition can be somehow sensed "under the skin" of his works. He considered himself an entirely modern man. When once asked during his stay in Poznań (Poland) whether he cultivates the Japanese tradition of the Tea Ceremony, he replied that "tea is for drinking not for making ceremonies".
The posters presented in this exhibition come from the collection of the Gallery of Poster and Design at the National Museum in Poznań, which currently comprises 3090 exhibits.
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Place: National Gallery of Art
Date:03.07 - 30.09
Hour: - - 00:00
Tickets: normal - PLN 10.00, discount - PLN 7.00, family - PLN 18.00, school discount (group of minimum 20 people) - PLN 4.00 per person, ticket for the listener of the University of the Third Age (group of at least 20 people) - PLN 4.00. (Karta Sopocka: 5 PLN)
Address: Plac Zdrojowy 2, 81-720 Sopot
Organizer: National Gallery of Art