The exuberance of poster art is best defined in the Polish posters. This can be said considering the fact that poster making as an art form has been around in Poland since nineteenth century. Polish poster art — which is accorded a stature equal to paintings — has a rich history and tradition; and began to flourish in the country with the establishment of the ‘Polish School of Posters’ in the mid 1950s. No other country can display such an artistic wealth and creativity in posters, and none, all things considered, could achieve anything close to the Polish attainments in this art form. The Polish poster art became an organised movement in the country between 1890 and 1905 under the Austrio- Hungarian rule. The economic and cultural communities in those days expressed interest in posters to promote their activities. And they were not used merely as means to communicate and advertise but also to reflect the socio-cultural and political aspects of the Polish society.
The artists, through their sagacious allusions and vivid imagery in posters, created a popular craze and gave the public a new way of looking at the poster art. The younger and middle generation of artists are now carrying forward the tradition established by the likes of Henryk Tomaszewski, Roman Cie lewicz, Jan Lenica, Wikhor Gorka, Waldemar Wierzy and others. The modern artists are experimenting with a wide range of styles, attitudes and design strategies; and are also using graphic designing to create posters. There can be no doubt, however, that the essence of the past can be sensed in the modern works although the art has evolved.
The worldwide logo of the Polish Institute — the cultured man — complements the grandiose that it manages to cultivate through various cultural activities in the Capital. The Institute is presenting an exhibition titled “Eye on Poland: New Graphic Designs from Poland” in collaboration with Art Heritage Gallery, New Delhi, and Culture.pl, featuring the most interesting projects from the past few years in contemporary Polish graphic design. The exhibition is also being presented in South Korea. The works presented have been curated and selected by Magdalena Frankowska and Artur Frankowski from several hundred books and posters designed by Polish artists and designers mainly in the last four years. Frankowska says, “Polish posters are important fragments of our culture. The last few years have witnessed a dynamic development of the art form in Poland.” The exhibition presents 60 works from 30 Polish designers which were mainly commissioned by cultural institutions, museums, foundations and art galleries. “The idea behind the exhibition is to take the viewers on a voyage through a wide range of styles in posters, reflecting the richness of the current Polish graphic design scene. The Polish posters’ strength lies primarily in its rich diversity and mutual absorption of various trends. It has a diversity of style where grotesque and abstract prevails as does the Kitch style and a calculated graphic approach in design and topography. Some of the posters are surreal yet interspersed with humour. It is a kind of medium which provides a different way of looking at information,” Frankowski adds. In one of the posters, called Breaking the Waves, a woman stands on the edge of a cliff. On observing closely, one finds that the cliff is actually the face of a man. According to Frankowska, the posters on display are as fiercely individualistic as the personalities involved in their making.
Apart from the posters, the exhibition also has several award winning books from Poland, including a uniquely designed six metre-long zigzag book of poetry for children which is an artistic statement in itself. The exhibition also has on display catalogues, CD and vinyl record covers elegantly transformed by outstanding designers. The exhibition presents the projects where the designers have looked for inventive means of expression for sharp messages.
Apart from New Delhi, the exhibition was presented in Setouchi City Museum of Art, Setouchi (Japan) and is currently on display in Korea Foundation Gallery, Seoul (South Korea). And plans are to take it to other Indian cities, including Mumbai and Kolkata.
Exhibition “EYE ON POLAND: New Graphic Design from Poland” is currently on at Art Heritage Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, 205, Tansen Marg, New Delhi-110001