Inspired by the Bauhaus, American Jazz and the aesthetic tradition of Japan, Ikko Tanaka (1930-2002) remains one of the most influential Japanese graphic designers. The exhibition is dedicated to the theme of the face in the poster oeuvre of this communicator between Japanese culture and the West. The parade of faces gliding past the ambling viewer is akin to a Gallery of Beauties, rendered in radical geometric abstraction, calligraphic expressivity or captured in photographs, emblematic, distorted, as impenetrable mask, surreal, playful … Sublimely seductive or theatrically tantalizing, all of these faces want to catch the viewer’s attention, be it for Noh or Kabuki theatre, exhibitions, communications companies or a collection by fashion designer Issey Miyake.
Ikko Tanaka’s style could be outlined as combining bold abstraction with the balancing of opposites; it is expressive, elegant and powerful. Fellow designer American Ivan Chermayeff dubbed him a “distiller of visual truth”.