Posters are the kings of graphic design art. It is easy to present, easy to show and it reaches people in the public space. It was in 1960s that Polish artists started concentrating on posters, and that’s why Polish poster art has had a strong influence on poster-making styles across Europe, China, North and South America,” says Lech Majewski, a Polish graphic artist and professor at the celebrated Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland. In India for the signing of an MoU between the Academy of Fine Arts and National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, Majewski stopped by the Polish Institute in Delhi to showcase a selection of 30 posters.
One the displays was a poster for the theatre production of Polish writer’s Witold Gombrowicz’s Ferdydurkein in 2009. Majewski shows the red silhouette of a schoolboy carrying a backpack. The boy appears playful and happy even in his silhouette, which gels in smoothly with Gombrowicz’s bitter humor about a writer thrown into a chaotic world of schoolboys. For Iwona Princess of Burgundy, also by Gombrowicz, Majewski used a crimson backdrop for the protagonist — a grey skeletal fish, its head replaced by a heart to refer to the prince’s love in the story.
The president of Warsaw’s International Poster Biennale, Majewski is now working on a book cover of the translation of Narcopolis, Delhi-based Jeet Thayil’s debut novel on addiction in the Bombay of the 1970s. “This uses a contrasting colour scheme that goes well with Jeet’s dramatic story. While composing anything, you have to listen to your head, heart and hand — your head is for concepts, the heart for emotions and the hand is for quality,” says Majewski, 68, who studied under Henryk Tomaszewski, the father of the Polish School of Poster.
Another work was for a play on Alice in Wonderland in 2012, It shows a red-haired girl sticking out of a curtain of multicoloured pinstripes. Somber is not Majewski’s style. He prefers to dives to the point and lets images do the talking. He is upbeat about India. “India’s folk art has been received very well and the definition of art is always evolving so there’s scope for the development of a visual language which includes poster making,” says Majewski.