Rene Wanner's Poster Page


front cover Before 30 - The works of Jianping He
Edited by Jianping He and Harald G. Hentrich, published by Hentrich & Hentrich Verlag, Teetz (DE) (Nov 2002), available from Jianping He,; 160 pages, 17 x 24 cm, about 100 mostly full page color illustrations; softcover; ISBN 3-933471-38-9; in english, german and chinese; Euro 40.00 (US$ 40.00)

with texts by Heinz-Juergen Kristahn, Frieder Mellinghoff, Pierre Mendell and Jianping He; with a detailed list of 63 works (mostly posters, some free work, photographs, book covers, logos), a biography, and a list of awards

Jianping HE was born in 1973 in a tiny farming village half a day's train ride southwest from Shanghai. It was at the peak of the so-called "Cultural Revolution" in China, a mass campaign of enormous dimensions, during which many hundreds of millions of posters were printed and distributed. It was also a time of great suffering; his parents were sent 200 km in opposite directions to work in the fields, and little Jianping was brought up by his grandmother until the nightmare was over.

Today, he finds himself working in Berlin, one of the centers of graphic design of the western world , and has reaped attention, awards and prizes from countries like Poland, Finland, the United States, France, Mexico and, fortunately also from China, his motherland with which he maintains close contact.

What kind of posters would a graphic designer with such an extraordinary background make? German posters in the style of Heinz Juergen Kristahn, his professor and former mentor at the University of Arts in Berlin? Posters in the style of the chinese avantgarde that are currently so popular with all the international juries? Computer dominated global high tech style with ten transparent layers, 64 million colors and twenty fonts, all of them out of focus, upside down and unreadable? Would childhood memories of social realism posters, or chinese peasant paintings show through? Can a chinese graphic designer find peace in latin typography, or even have an advantage over the typographic monolinguals? The answer is yes and no to all these questions; as usual, I leave it to the reader to decide.

The posters below are taken from the book, relatively unknown in the top row, and famous (and discussed in detail in the text) in the second row:

2001, Poster for the Fubac Digital Print company, that made the giant versions of some chinese posters shown in the exhibition in Berlin 2000, Anti-nazi poster in response to a german politician who coined the ill-conceived term "Leit-Kultur" (leading culture) to imply superiority of german culture. By changing only one character in this expression, the quick-witted Berliners made it into "Leid-Kultur" (culture is suffering) 2001, Poster for a talk on the Chinese Communist Party, at the Free University Berlin 2001, Poster for the 2. International Poster Exhibition in Ningbo, China with the theme "Fusion". The text reads "Fusion makes us loose our true features"

1999, Poster for the 1. International Poster Exhibition in Ningbo, China, with the theme "Fashion and Culture". (Honorable Mention 13th Lahti Poster Biennal 2001) 2001, Cloning, visual commentary on the discussion about genetic engineering
( Silver medal at the International Poster Biennale Warsaw 2002 )

2001, Cloning, visual commentary on the discussion about genetic engineering
( Silver medal at the International Poster Biennale Warsaw 2002 )

It is clear that people like Jianping He are very important bridges between East and West, a function that is not always easy, and also design is not an easy work for him, as he explains in the short afterword. But he has already left his mark in both fields, and when he says in conclusion of his book "On the 26th of February 2003, I'll be thirty" we sense justified pride, a whiff of panic, and great hope.


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