Awazu Kiyoshi Graphic Design Exhibit at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LACMA)
By Tokyo Journal Intern Diletta Fenicia Moricca
The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LACMA) is hosting a dazzling show to honor the work of the Japanese artist Awazu Kiyoshi entitled “Graphic Design: Summoning the Outdated.” The exhibition started in October 13, 2016 and lasts until May 7, 2017. It is located on the third level of the Helen and Felix Juda Gallery. The exhibition shows books and posters from the 1960’s to the 1970’s. It is an exploration of Japanese visual culture, a personal journey with imagery that presents a folk-influenced character, an investigation of shades and forms, and a reflection on the prospects of the functions of possibility. The show takes the observer amidst Awazu’s foundation of surreal alignment in his work that advertises movies, theatre, art, and literature. LACMA’s ongoing intent to collect and display graphic design means that all the pieces in the exhibition have been acquired fairly recently. A walk-thru of the show gives a feeling of extended rural life.
Awazu Kiyoshi (1929-2009) dedicated his career to political activism; creating posters and urban design in the art movement of Tokyo. He is recognized for his collaborations with different mediums spanning from urban design to posters. These enabled him to be acclaimed as one of the greatest Japanese graphic designers from the post-World War II era. People felt the romance of life in defect and rawness that was expressed in his work as the world was entranced by facile appearances. His work encompasses the nascent segment of commercial art.
In his commitment to investigational art, Awazu carried out his practice with freedom regardless of the negativity or the problems that society was facing. Through his art, he was able to express his feelings and promote his ideology in spite of what the customs of class, type, and inequality at the time dictated. He was an outstanding prodigy with an incessant fascination with the world around him. Awazu started creating art while his country was dealing with the untreated sewage of the urban darkness. Through his work, he was able to give graphic design a place in Japan. His work throughout his career spanned through art, music, film, theatre, and architecture.
The work presented at LACMA is characterized by impudent structures of color, atavistic lines and delicate typography. They reflect the early beatnik vernacular awareness that rejected the rigid tones of modernism for a natural gathering of lines and real appearance that can enrapture the audience. Awazu utilized daring orders of color in his publicity edits that he combined in dazzling compositions. The coextensive line oeuvre uncovers a trust in overprinting for hypnotizing optical effects. He used coarse-grained silkscreen as a medium. Conventional themes are oozed by extremely unsettling visions of modernity. The exhibition shows how Awazu was able to master mediums of ink, pen, brush, and press crafting, cybernetic cosmoses of firmed form and field interactions.