8th International invitasional poster exhibition ‘æ8‰ñ‘åŠ_‘Ûµ‘Òƒ|ƒXƒ^[“W

Where will the modern posters go?

Noboru Matsuura
Director of Ogaki Poster Museum, Japan Professor of Kanazawa University


I was in Warsaw in early November, 2009. I am sensitive to cold so saw neither professors of the Warsaw University of Arts nor designers or artists of Poland, though I didnft shut myself up at the hotel all day. November 1 of Poland is equal to "Obon" of Japan. A lot of citizens and students, devout Christians, return home a day before and art museums and public accommodations are closed. This is what I heard from Prof. Okazaki then. Having no idea of where to go out, I decided to observe this religious event by his advice. I got on a bus along with Varsovians and visited a cemetery. This was where I called the grave of Jan Mlodozeniec seven years ago. The memory revived so vividly that I could reach his grave easily, maybe he guided me there. The cemetery is decorated with candles and flowers all over in the daytime, and fire is lit on candles at night when the whole place turns into a fantastic picture. I wasnft in the cemetery at night but saw the view on television in my hotel room. It is identical in Japan to light up the fire on the graves, and common between us to invite the souls of the deceased.

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I spoke to the grave of Jan Mlodozeniec. "Why am I here? What is it if you want to tell me?" When I visited him in his atelier before his death, he told me he would use vivid colors consciously to brighten up the heart of Varsovians", and I tried to imagine of the background of these words once again. He must have thought seriously of using brilliant colors intentionally for the ruins of Warsaw city after the complete destruction by World War II. He simultaneously reminded me of the existence of "Polish Poster School", the foothold of production activity of posters. I wondered myself if he wanted to tell me of the existence of this school, and so I was convinced. However, Zdzislaw Schubert, director of poster art of the National Museum in Pozna and a well-known researcher of Polish posters, didn't refer to this particular school. When I met him at the exhibition hall of the gold medal prizewinners of this year, I asked him for his comment on "Polish Poster School". He only answered there is a book written by Jozef Mroszczak about the school. I wondered why such a prominent Polish researcher of posters was avoiding a reference to the school. He, however, came back to me with a positive attitude as "I'll do anything I can do, so please let me know," and I was very glad.

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The poster is art and message, and also a self-expression. Jules Cheret and Lautrec who established the modern posters demonstrated it. Posters developed from the time of Lautrec, and in the present day, international contests and exhibitions are held in more than 20 cities in the world and supported publicly as one of the modern art fields.

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The opening ceremony of the 22th International Poster Biennale Warsaw 2010 began at 6:00 p.m. on June 5th. I had arrived in Warsaw in the evening of 3rd and went out for visiting around the scheduled events from the morning of 4th. One of them was the 2nd International Student Poster Competition for the students of the universities of arts in the EU member states. It began in the afternoon of 4th and the theme was "Power vs. Poverty". I was excited to attend it before I left the Kansai International Airport. U.G. Sato from Japan, Kari Piippo, Finn Nygaard, and He Jianping all from Europe were there at the opening ceremony. The theme was lofty and the works were interesting, but it was out of my expectation. The diminution of localism and diversity in expression is concerned after the enlargement of EU and the globalization by informationoriented society, and I felt the students are also affected by the globalization. In other words, I felt like seeing soon in future their power of earnest observation, strength of curiosity and youth in expression.

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Starting at 12:30 p.m. on June 5 there was an exhibition of the 21st International Poster Biennale Laureates at the exhibition hall of Warsaw Graphics Academy close to where the grave of Jan Mlodozeniec was. I was going out by taxi from my hotel, but with ample time available I thought I could walk by the nice weather. The site seemed not so distant and I could catch a taxi on halfway if I would. After 30 minutes of walk I felt fatigue and looked for a taxi, but could hardly catch one. I thought a bus would be fine instead and asked a couple of pedestrians for the number of the bus to go to the graveyard. I didn't feel assured but anyhow jumped onto the bus numbered with 180. I was uneasy with the scenery that I didn't get used to. But it unexpectedly changed in 20 minutes of ride. It was the scenery near the Hotel Maria where I stayed before, and I recalled walking to the event from the hotel then. The 180th bus runs around the graveyard, the center of old city, Holy Cross Church, Lazienki Park and Wilanow Palace. Many a biennale-related event are held along this route. I always used a taxi in the past so I was unable to make such a discovery. I named the 180th route "Poster Road".

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Yumiko Meya, Japanese, was included in the gold medal winners of the 21st International Poster Biennale Laureates. Dorota, her interpreter, brought her from Sapporo together with two friends of hers to attend the event this year. Three Japanese women in kimono draw the attention of all the attendants and the hall was filled with cheers. Her greetings were rarely heard and even Lech Majewski, chairperson, edged them, took pictures, and expressed his full jubilation. Three kimono beauties were the focus of attraction of the visitors rather than the exhibition, and most of them took pictures with them for reminder. Myself exchanged greetings and name cards with two prizewinners, namely Ronald Curchod from France and Mark Gowing from Australia. I personally asked Mark for his participation in the 8th Ogaki International Invitational Poster Exhibition. Our museum had Ronald's participation before, but not anyone from Australia so far. I was very happy to have his instant yes then.

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The opening ceremony of the 22th International Poster Biennale Warsaw 2010 began in the courtyard of Wilanow Poster Museum with traditional serenity and dignity in the harsh sunlight of June. However, I was uneasy of one thing that the emcee and the program directors were overpraising Waldemar Swierzy.

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They must have taken him as the last person of "Polish Poster School" but myself wanted to adore him as an artist who produced more than 1500 works. One of the purposes of my visit in Warsaw was to have Dorota furnish a chance of talk with Swierzy from whom I could hear about the "Polish Poster School" in full detail.

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I was surprised to meet Shin Matsunaga and Eishi Kitazawa of Ginza Graphic Gallery at the ceremony. They called at Warsaw on their way back from Italy by their time allowance and left Wilanow off for the next destination in an hour.

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As the ceremony was over, I began browsing in the hall. But there were so many people that I couldn't see the presentation well with composure. I would take 3 rolls or 100 pictures normally but could take 20 pictures or so this time. An advancement of young designers is fine, but there is no excitement in their works. I have seen none of radical, outstanding and interesting works, probably because of the globalization. It can hardly be said their existence is threatening the senior designers who have contributed to the progress of quality of poster art so far, but still it can be said the poster art has entered the era of maturity, and is developing in the unstable society with a large gap between rich and poor.

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A beer party was held in the courtyard of the art museum and I was there. I sat at the same table with Gunter Rambow, German and senior judge of the biennale. Looking at him chatting with U.G. Sato aside, I recalled meeting with him for the first time in Lahti, Finland 19 years ago. I was amazed to see his current works shifted to Bauhaus constructionism from photomontage.

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As Dorota didn't feel well on the 6th, I instead guided those three Japanese ladies from Sapporo to the famous places in the historic city during the morning. At 1:00 p.m. I rushed by taxi to the opening ceremony of the private exhibition by Piotr Mlodozeniec. As I didn't confirm the taxi company in my hurry, I was overcharged with triple fare and reached the site 30 minutes late. I was pretty much offended, but Piotr, local Polish designers, and Kari Piippo from Finland received me so warmly.

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Piotr, son of Jan Mlodozeniec, was my interpreter of English when his fatherinvited me. His activities are marked highly and he is regarded as one of the core designers who represent the current Polish poster art. Since the death of his father I have tried to see him whenever I am in Warsaw for exhibitions. We don't talk each other much, but I always feel safe to see his cheerful face. There I missed Wiktor Sadowski and Andrzej Pagowski, both the Polish nucleus designers. I wonder why young designers are over-measured in Poland and where the Polish posters will go. All depends upon these three designers as they hold the key for the future.

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Public square of old city - Restored from the complete destruction by World War II

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Grave of Jan Mlodozeniec


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22th International Poster Biennale Warsaw 2010


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Meya Yumiko, left, and Dorota


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Direct mail of Piotr Mlodozeniec Exhibition