The Power of Polish Posters: Tomasz Bogusławski

by Natalia Dydo
Kraków, August 2018

The Dydo Poster Gallery is a place where you can find great Polish posters – pure pearls from the 50s (mostly collector editions), film posters from the 60s & 70s (the high point of the Polish Poster School), and contemporary designs of cultural events, theatre plays, opera, music and films. Definitely, a place to visit in Kraków if you’re interested in the art form. You can relax, read books about poster art and peruse catalogues with posters on sale. A great spot to get inspiration on what to hang on the wall of your house or your office. Visitors have also the chance to meet artists during exhibition openings and check out what is currently happening in the poster art world in Poland.

My father, Krzysztof Dydo, has a huge collection of posters. When I started to help him manage it, I found it really interesting but also time-consuming. I needed to split my daily routine between a full-time job and my passion for posters. Finally, in October 2017, I opened my own gallery. This is a family business where a lot of people, including my friends, spend their free time to make it a cosy place and open to any kind of cultural activity. Every 2 or 3 weeks I am organizing a poster exhibition – thematic or individual. I collaborate with many artists from Poland. One of them is Tomasz Bogusławski, of whom I would like to tell you a little bit more.

If you’re travelling in August 2018 to Kraków you can check over 50 of his posters. The exhibition features several projects created especially for this event; a set of posters for Pedro Almodóvar movies (Kika, The Flower of My Secret, The Skin I Live In), opera posters (Lucia di Lammermoor, Hommage a Monteverdi) and social-themed posters (Liberté!).

You will also have a chance to see large-size posters from the outside of the building of the former Cracovia Hotel, where the Gallery is located (courtesy of National Museum in Krakow).

Tomasz Bogusławski was born in 1958 in Gdańsk. He studied at the Visual Arts & Design Department PWSSP, now the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk under the supervision of professor Marek Freudenreich and professor Witold Janowski. Since 1983 he worked as a tutor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, and currently as a professor at the Graphic Arts Department. He is working within various forms of graphic design: poster, visual communication, editorial graphics, philatelic editing as well as small graphic forms.

I met Tomasz through my father, as they know each other for over 20 years now. I invited him to join the Polish Poster Project in Turkey in 2014, which was my first big project sponsored by The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Poland. Tomasz and few other artists travelled with me to Ankara to provide workshops for students at the Bilkent University. I was amazed when I saw him guide students to help them figure out how they can do an interesting poster with just paper and stones found on the street.

This is how Tomasz Bogusławski works on his new projects. He is a frequent visitor of flea markets and antique fairs. He is constantly looking for things, objects of daily use which will fit with his concept/idea of the story. When he talks about a poster he uses the terms stage and actors. The stage is a B1 size paper (100x70cm); the objects are the actors. The same as in theatre, Tomasz is a director who wants to show the public his point of view on a specific topic. That’s why it is not surprising that a lot of his works have been created for the Teatr Miejski in Gdynia or the Teatr Współczesny in Szczecin. Have you ever heard about Teatr Rekwizytornia? This is an imaginary theatre by Tomasz Bogusławski, where he can freely design posters for every theatre play he likes.

In his posters, Tomasz tries to share his fascinations as well as his fears. In some posters he feels obliged, to touch upon a subject matter that does not have to be so audience-friendly at all, pleasant, light or easy. It should be thought-provoking.

Lately, Tomasz designed a poster about Poland. He bought a few matchboxes in Kraków two years ago. When he opened the matchbox he saw those gnawing heads in the colours of the Polish flag. There was some kind of mockery in it. The background to this poster is a copy of the ‘Warsaw Evening’ newspaper from Saturday, September 2, 1939. If we associate the real content of what happened on September 1, 1939 – the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, with the advertising slogan which you can see on the poster “To live not to die” or “The world is beautiful”, you will have an impression that there is some mystification. Recently, unfortunately, we have seen more and more faces on television which are patronisingly trying to interpret the reality where we live and present it as if people had stopped thinking at all. This poster is an example of sharing a certain feeling of disgust (uczucie niesmaku).

Another poster which you can see at the exhibition has been awarded the 1st prize at the 6th International Socio-Political Poster Biennale in Oświęcim. Red background, a lot of matchsticks and a box with a recognizable face with a moustache. Signed: Never again 1939-2014. 75th Anniversary of WW II. The image speaks for itself.

Take a moment and think, how easy or how hard is to find the right idea to speak about certain stories in one single image. This is the real power of a poster.

Koleje rzeczy. Plakaty Tomasza Bogusławskiego
July 21 – August 26, 2018
Dydo Poster Gallery
Kraków, Al. Focha 1 (former Cracovia Hotel)

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