Pictorial Writing - Contemporary Chinese Posters
September 2, 2005, received from Jianping He
Contemporary Chinese poster art is an unknown in our corner of the
woods. Given the dynamics of a rapidly growing and influential Chinese
economy, it is, however, only logical that the cultural scene is
burgeoning as well. China has clearly become the labor market of the
present and the consumer market of the future. The greater the economic
prowess of the People's Republic of China, the greater its role as a
potential world power. The new China offers the Western world an
immeasurable wealth of opportunities, although these have so far been
largely implemented unilaterally and one-dimensionally. In view of the
steadily growing range of products "Made in China", offered for sale in
the chain stores of the West, insight into the culture of their country
of origin has remained relatively scant, not to mention an even less
informed awareness of the Chinese art world. This is in part explained
by the fact that the majority of Chinese imports are not Chinese labels
but rather the product of Western outsourcing.
Public perception is now changing in Switzerland. Interest in China, in the mentality of the Chinese, in the people and their culture has grown remarkably. The presentation of the Sigg Collection in Bern and Hamburg was perfectly timed and has opened wide the doors for the reception of Chinese art. Independently, the exhibition, "Pictorial Writing – Contemporary Chinese Posters", is on view in Lucerne from 14 September to 5 November, 2005 at the HGK Luzern, Roessligasse 12. For the first time, a broader public has the opportunity to take a closer look at Chinese poster design in a presentation of work by over 30 leading poster designers from China.
Ultimately, this event is indebted to the annual competition, "100 Best Posters – Germany, Austria, Switzerland", which is held in Berlin and followed up with exhibitions in Berlin, Lucerne and Vienna. In spring 2005, Jianping He (Berlin) and Urs Strähl (Lucerne), both members of the sponsoring organisation, 100 Best Posters Association, were invited to visit Shanghai and Nanjing, paving the way for a dialogue on poster design. In Jianping He, the organisation sent a man who would guarantee a variety of contacts with Chinese makers of posters and schools of design. The second delegate, Urs Strähl, director of Grafik/BMS, the graphic design program at the Lucerne University of Art and Design, was in turn able to offer his expertise as an experienced organiser of pioneering exhibitions and events on the art of the poster. The warm reception and curiosity of their Chinese hosts, of both designers and art academies, laid the foundations for an excellent network of contacts. These have proved extremely fruitful in mounting the exhibition "Pictorial Writing – Contemporary Chinese Characterposters".
Urs Straehl und Matthias Hauser