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kiyoshi awazu

︎Artist, Graphic Design, Japanese  
︎ Ventral Is Golden


"The designer’s mission is to extend the rural into the city, foreground the folklore, reawaken the past, summon back the outdated.”

Kiyoshi Awazu was a pioneering self-taught visual artist, who laid some of the foundations for a new Japanese Graphic Design culture in the years following World War II. 





With such a refined style, with it's feet in two worlds so to speak, Awazu was able to jump freely between genres such as painting, poster and book design, architecture, music, film, performance, and theatre.

Aesthetically, a subtle awkwardness lends itself to Awazu's ability to augment traditional Japanese painting techniques with modern symbolism. It is testament to the adroitness of his visual language, that through a seemingly disparate world ravaged by the destruction of war, emerged such a harmonious expression.


In stark contrast to the prevailing modernist dogmas which have befallen our cultural discourse, and crystallised most progressive thought into an impersonal set of symbols, Awazu imbued his expressive, hand-drawn designs with local traditions. He argued that the designer’s mission was “to extend the rural into the city, foreground the folklore, reawaken the past, summon back the outdated.”


“Whose faces were those? Are those clouds, or the sky reflected in water? A leaf vibrates and disappears."







Explaining his artistic process, the artist once poetically wrote, "I must have been dreaming or something. I started to draw a circle and the circle became an eyeless face. The surroundings of the face are lines of a stratum, meterological contour lines. The face of a girl or an old lady in Munch’s 'The Scream' rose before me and flew away. The heads of Picasso, Sharaku, and Eisen came across my mind but they disappeared, too many images come and go. Faces that I don’t recognize come and go. Whose faces were those? Are those clouds, or the sky reflected in water? A leaf vibrates and disappears."







Further Reading ︎
Tokyo Reporter
Escape Into Life, article


Mark