Rene Wanner's Poster Page


book cover The poster works of Chen Zhengda
Edited, designed and published by Chen Zhengda,, with text contributions by Zhao Yan, Wang Min and Wang Xueqing, Hangzhou (CN) (2005); 76 pages, 22 x 28 cm, about 30 color reproductions, mostly full page; hardcover; ISBN 3-00-015596-1; in chinese and english

Chen Zhengda, picture from the book
As Philippe Apeloig has pointed out to me when we visited the Cassandre exhibition in Chaumont, the great french graphic designer is often perceived as a mature, experienced artist that created his unforgetable masterworks at the peak of his career after a lifetime of developing his skills. As a matter of fact, Cassandre was only 26 when he designed "Etoile du Nord", he made "Triplex" at 29, "Dubonnet" at 31, and "Normandie" at 34.

Chen Zhengda, a graphic designer educated at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, is now 27, and his equally well known colleagues from the same institution, He Jianping and Yuan Youmin, are 32, and 33, respectively.

I am not implying that these three young men will eventually grow up to the same size as Cassandre, or that one day their current work will be put in the same class as *Dubonnet" or "Normandie", although I am not excluding it either, time will tell, but a book like this one gives me great joy, and great hope for the future of posters as a medium, and shows that the pipeline of graphic expression has obviously not dried up, and that even today some young artists are able, and eager, to follow in Cassandre's footsteps, at the same age that he started his career.

Chen Zhengda's book is a review of his poster work since 1999, supplemented with articles by his teacher Zhao Yan, by Wang Min, the President of the Design College of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and by Wang Xueqing, Vice President of the Design College at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou.

In addition, it has a short biography with an impressive list of international exhibitions in which he has participated, and the publication is also the catalogue of a personal exhibition in March 2005 with 50 posters at the Confucian Temple Gallery in Hangzhou. Most posters can also be seen at Chen's web site, one of the best graphic designer's sites I know, especially usefull for it's blog which I consult almost daily. In addition to his BA degree in graphic design, Chen also has an MA degree in multimedia and web design, so his page, and the book, reflect favorably on the quality of education at the China Academy of Art.

The following texts are from the chapter "Excerpts from Chen Zhengda´s notes"

  • Design style is not the formal individualization, but the result of fusing the designer's personal individuality into the works. Designs express what we think instead of what we see or dream. When we look at the works, we are communicating with the designer's preferences and true beliefs hiding in the design.

  • The originality of the language is essential for the works. Format without creativity has no meaning.

  • It is obvious that art will influence design. A conflict arises from the two elements of visual taste and thoughts. Design cannot break away from art. Especially when we do free designs, we are showing our thoughts and outlook.

  • As Chinese designers, it is natural to be immersed in Chinese culture, pursue the essence of Chinese culture. And it is exciting to design with the passion for Chinese culture. We should let others feel the breadth of Chinese culture. Being nourished by this thought is much more important than pursing the skills. In this way it is easier for us to attain a higher artistic conception.

  • We can find our own position only after knowing the whole region. "Paintings do not paint the superficial images, but the essence and spirit of the works." "Chinese painting pursues the artistic conception outside the painting skills." "Real images on the paintings are only bridges to the essence and spirit."

  • From the poster Peach Blossom Fan to the The European Art Market, we can see the change from concrete to abstract. Of their subject matter, one is totally Chinese, while the other is totally western. When the skills become of secondary importance, more attention is paid to the control of the artistic conception and design philosophy. One emphasizes the eastern spirit, the internal echo, and treats the white as if it were black. The other highlights the precision of arrangement and the perfect proposition. Different thoughts lead to different expressions. There are country differences in designing, but they can be accepted by all the people across the world.

  • Working in an open and peaceful environment, we can think and design more freely. When the aroma of tea drifting up in the air, it is the best time for us to study and think. Design is the expression of human charm and interest, it expresses our heart and mind.

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