When I studied Graphic Design, I had the opportunity to meet one of the graphic design masters, the German Uwe Loesch, at an exhibition organised in an art gallery in Paris. He is not a graphic designer… Uwe Loesch is a graphic artist. He started his career as a freelance designer and lyricist for publishers and cultural institutions. He is also a Professor for Communication at the Bergische University Wuppertal in Düsseldorf.
Loesch has designed many posters, won tons of awards, amongst them the Grand Prix of the International Poster Biennial in Finland in 1983, and his work is represented in many museums such as the MOMA in New York. He has also more than 30 one-man-exhibitions worldwide. The artist belongs to the AGI (Alliance Graphic Internationale).
His work shows excellent graphic skills, genius and eccentricity but Uwe Loesch says he uses graphic design "not to decorate the world" but to communicate, opposed to someone like David Carson who has often (unfairly) been criticised for the lack of message in his work. His posters don't just rely on aesthetic images but on words too and the messages raise awareness on a variety of sociopolitical causes. His inspiration goes back to the Nihilist and Dada movements and also Swiss design.
My first encounter with his work was the poster "Little Boy". It is a beautiful and compelling black and white image of an Asian boy. This poster commemorates the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in Japan during World War 2. "Little Boy" was the nickname of one of the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan. The image shows the aggressor through the innocent victim "every human being – the victim of every bomb". There is something haunting about this image, the victim looks like a ghost and his facial expression has been achieved by making the little boy hold his breath.
I always admired his balance on text/image… we are tempted to have text take centre stage. With him it is more subtle. His messages are never patronising and always relevant. He is from the old school, a rare breed of designers crafting their work as Works of Art, with many references to artistic movements that are our heritage.
18 April 2013
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