Tracing Japanese poster art's journey

Cultural exchange

Between 1980 and 1990 in Japan, a period called Bubble Economy prospered. The term signifies the phase when business and industrial revolution flourished in Japan. Parallel to this, there was a growing awareness about environmental problems, and signs of globalisation had began to become visible. Hence, poster-making became a means to communicate and various enterprises invested a lot of money on advertising and publicity. In this duration, graphic design picked up speed and graphic designers flourished because of their art.

The exhibition ‘Contemporary Japanese Posters’ has brought a number of posters from international meetings and expositions in Japan, influenced by the developments happening during the ‘Bubble Economy’ period to the Indian audience.

“They (people) will also see contemporary Japanese life presented through these posters, which are seen as social art and not merely as advertising material. These works make us understand the growth of graphic posters in the mentioned era,” says Misako Futsuki, director of Arts and Cultural Exchange, The Japan Foundation.

The Japan Foundation has curated the exhibition from the works of world famous graphic designers, who are known for their imaginative powers. The artists, Yusaku Kamekura, Kiyoshi Awazu, Kazumasa Nagai, Mitsuo Katsui, Shigeo Fukuda, Masayoshi Nakajo, Keisuke Nagatomo and Shin Matsunaga have presented the social reality in Japan during that time.  “The poster art in Japan has always gone beyond its mission as simply a medium for the conveyance of information, strongly maintaining an artistic element for itself. The self-consciousness among poster artists became particularly advanced during the 1960s, increasingly radical during the 1970s. And, during the 1980s, the Japanese poster making scene became more artistic than before,” says Kenshiro Takami, one
of the curators.

After World War II, Japan set her course on pursuing “modern rationalism”, according to Yasaku Kamekura, one of the participating artists in the exhibition. He is considered the pioneer in putting Japanese poster design industry in its proper direction. He says, that it was only 40 years ago that Japan realised the power of graphic design. Hence, graphic designing in Japan may be immature, but is “lively and active”.

Kamekura explains that how the Japanese society passed on its tradition and culture particularly through graphic design.

“Graphic design can live only according to the economy. At the beginning of post war era, people of Japan were worried that their land will become barren. To catch up with Western culture, master them, and then get ahead of them, they believed ‘art’ was the only way to survive,” he says.

This is the first phase of the exhibition which will continue till June 4 and the second phase will start from June 10 till July 1. More posters of the same genre with the aim to educate about a transient phase in Japan will be
displayed.

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