It’s not often that graphic design gets its moment in the spotlight – well, in the gallery spotlight, at least – so the inaugural Graphic Trial – Hong Kong Edition exhibition gives the artistic discipline a rare chance to reach a wider audience, and invites the public to engage in some of the most exciting and innovative work coming out of Japan and Hong Kong.
Launching tomorrow, this large-scale show at Space 27 in Quarry Bay showcases 90 original poster designs by leading Japanese and Hong Kong artists until June 18. Designers on show include Japan’s Katsumi Asaba (best known for his two-dimensional and TV-commercial work) and local boy Alan Chan, renowned designer of graphics and products, owner of Space 27 and its sister art space, Gallery 27 (in Wan Chai), and who is also the exhibition’s curator.
The new exhibition is an off-shoot of Graphic Trial Tokyo, which was launched in 2006,the brainchild of Asia-wide, Japan-founded commercial printer Toppan Printing. The idea was to explore the diversity of design and technique incorporated in Japanese posters, and bring the best to the public’s attention. Chan was asked to curate the new exhibition from the hundreds of works that have been exhibited at Graphic Trial Tokyo events over the past 10 years, and add some strong works from Hong Kong.
“You get a look into some cultural differences between the Japanese and people in Hong Kong,” Chan says. “The Japanese [design] style to me is more spiritual – their work is often more detail-oriented and structured. They show this with some quite sophisticated [use of] printing technology.
“Hong Kong is a very commercial city, more direct, and this shows in the poster designs.”
Asked to name the artists that most impress him in the new exhibition, Chan doesn’t hesitate. “Katsumi Asaba is my mentor,” he says. “He is over 70 years old [77, in fact], but he is very interested in space and modern technology, which he uses in a lot of his images.
“I also really like Hiroaki Nagai, another older designer [60 years old]. His designs are very modern and he tries to get the human touch into his work.”