Some people may not know art, but they know what they hate.

From 21 February to 3 March, five art schools in Tokyo are holding a joint exhibition to highlight the works of their graduating students in various media such as oil painting and sculpture. The annual event is in its 42nd year and is expected to draw around 60,000 guests each time.

As with any event of such magnitude, a promotional campaign was created to spread awareness for art fans in the area to come and see what the next generation of creative minds are up to. Here’s the official poster and postcard design that can be seen around Tokyo leading up to the exhibition.

Utilizing state-of-the art MS Paint technology, this design features a stunning use of magenta and black while minimizing negative space with its wonky lines. One might suspect this to be the work of Franz Kline, were he alive to have access to Windows 95.

But enough of my layman’s analysis, here’s what people had to say online.

“Too sloppy.”
“I think it is meant to be sarcasm against so-called ‘authorities’ on art, design, and beauty.”
“It makes you think.”
“I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but it got attention so it’s a success.”
“That’s nothing. It’s a joke.”
“That sucks.”
“The definition of something great, is something normal people can’t do. Anyone can do this.”
“Is the artist recovering from a nerve disorder?”
“It looks good if you squint your eyes.”
“It took five art universities to come up with this?”

Each year the host school is in charge of the promotion and this year those duties have fallen on Tama Art University. The poster in question was made by Professor Kazunari Hattori who has an extensive background in advertising, including work on campaigns for major brands like Kewpie Mayonnaise and Kirin Tanrei Green Label.

A spokesperson for Tama Art University spoke to local media and explained the reasoning behind this particular piece.

“As a designer, Professor Hattori has continued to create graphics that are not bound by existing concepts. It is the same regarding this exhibition of young artists.”

Fair enough, but my two-year-old daughter also creates illustrations that are not bound by existing concepts. I’m not so sure that makes it good art though.

But I think what’s really interesting about this particular image is that everyone is critiquing it as a work of art, when it never even claimed to be art. It’s just an advert giving information about an art show.

For example, no one took to the Internet to debate the artistic merit of last year’s poster. You could argue that both posters would take about an equal amount of time and effort to make, but this year’s struck a certain nerve with people simply in the way it looked.

▼ 2018 ad design

Advertisements are rarely held to the same standards of art, and yet there’s something about Professor Hattori’s poster that seems to have triggered such a discussion.

As an ad it’s already a huge success because here we are talking about it. But in a roundabout way, its ability to elicit feelings from people by its design alone seems to elevate it to the rarefied air of an ad that’s also a work of art – right up there with the poster of a lady shooting water out her nose.

Source: J-Cast News, Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@oyogusuisitai4