here is the english translation of the speech i gave last sunday during the opening of the exhibition by studio matusiak in the dutch poster museum
ladies & gents, dear guests
firstly i would like to welcome you all to the poster museum this afternoon for the opening of the exhibition ‘dare – 8 years of posters by studio matusiak’
my name is martin pyper and i am (if the accent is difficult to place) english, i am also a poster designer and last but not least i am an admirer of the work made by paulina and her studio
it is therefore an honour to be stood here today and although there is so much to say i promise that my speech will not last any longer than 45 minutes (a bad joke i know but it worked) who knows it may even be a lot shorter, at least i (and no doubt you too) hope as much…
an exhibition about 8 years of posters, or perhaps a title like ‘an exhibition about years of posters and a lifetime of emotions, insights, talent, stories and experience which preceded it all’ would have been more appropriate, of course not a very fetching title for an exhibition and way too long to fit on a poster, but you get my point…
what you are about to see today, is an impressive and highly personal compilation of paulina the designer but also paulina the person, a cursory glance around shows even the most untrained eye that we are dealing with someone who looks at the world in an intense and passionate manner
at the very best a poster gets an average of three three seconds to do it’s job… at least going under the assumption that the passer-by in question is walking normally or cycling and actually paying attention, if we assume that he/she is riding a scooter, whilst listening to music and checking the weather on a smartphone… then that poster will, of course have to try even harder… the world is constantly accelerating it’s pace and posters are becoming a threatened species, but that’s a discussion for another day…
the point i want to make is that when cycling around town as i do each day, i also pay little attention, in my case however the posters are the cause, i see nothing else just the posters… yet a poster would have to be pretty special to cause me to stop, dismount and go back for a better look, a privilege which is reserved for very few posters… paulina has managed to make this happen and not just once… this fact led me to go and meet the person in question and find out a bit more
paulina has her roots in poland, she had ambitions to become a painter, her journey to the netherlands took some unexpected detours and she was fortunate to end up working with (amongst others) the famous dutch poster designer ‘anton beeke’ her work is often, perhaps too often, compared to that of anton; an influence which i personally also had remarked upon and what i ask myself, is wrong with that?
after all who has ever lived without the influence, example and inspiration of others? beeke in turn was also greatly influenced and inspired by other acclaimed designers, the long standing tradition and excellence in poster design which for many decades has emerged from paulina’s land of birth: poland, for example…
the incomparable talent of designers like ‘henryk tomaszewski’ can clearly be revealed in anton’s own work, on a personal note anton beeke was a huge influence on me also and one of the reasons i moved to the netherlands years ago, the body of work shown here today from pauilna matusiak is likewise a big influence on my own profession and remains a fruitful source of inspiration to me, thus the cycle goes around and around and what, i wonder… could be more wonderful than that?
the previous century was characterised by great upheavals, progress, reform and struggle, a different world to the one we now live in; a century in which the poster fulfilled a different role and served other purposes, posters were political and opinionated, a poster was left-wing, a poster was right-wing, it always was a participant and rarely chose to be neutral, the poster was the domain where the fight for change became visual and was expressed, these days digital media (such as twitter recently in egypt) have become the platform for mass communication and political ideology
the poster seems to have been relegated to a more modest stage on which the arts or largely cultural events by nature are played out and commercial interests have become more and more prevalent, a whole new era begins..
which all leads me back to the present and to paulina… on her website she summarises herself and the studio’s output with ten short words, i would like to make use of these to paint a picture, in her own words
1 – work i treat everything i make like a small piece of fine art
2 – computer it’s just a tool, it has no soul, and no character… and my work must have character… i need to touch the materials, feel, that emparts emotion, gives depth and layering
3 – (my personal favourite) vodka sorry i have nothing to drink… oh wait… would you like a vodka?
4 – theater for me theater is emotion, to be able to make the transition to a printed poster i would rather be involved at an early stage
5 – contact you get the best results when you can physically see the client, listen, watch, their reactions even a pause can be significant, by intuition this all seeps through into the process and is visible in
the final result
6 – stilletos
7 – courage it’s crucial that a client is prepared to take risks to dare to look over the borders, to be genuinely unique nobody really looks a poster that is just average
8 – style i do not have a style, it adapts to each job people tell me my work is recognisable
9 – conforming it’s the worst thing, an image it needs to ‘grate’ somehow if it’s all not quite ‘right’… that’s when it catches your attention
10 – kuba look that’s my son
i would like to add an eleventh word to this list
11 – lemniscate paulina chose a lemniscate, or rather an infinity symbol, or rather a figure eight as a symbol for the cover of her recently published book
a diminutive book full of grandiose work, the size of which seemed at first somewhat illogical to me although the size actually belies the power of the work, the ease with which she manoeuvres between photography, painterly type, dark symbolism and absurd/surreal scenes, the work never misses it’s mark, her playful compositions often artfully concealing the essence of the narrative and hidden layers of meaning, i recommend you to get hold of a copy…
and finally… on the subject of infinity, how can one person possibly make so much striking work in such a short time?
nobodys career, however you look at it, can ever be infinte, it’s just a fact of life… but i feel sure i am not alone in sharing my sincere wish that we may all meet again back here in march 2029 for the twentyfifth anniversary of studio matusiak
it would appear that there are at the very least 30 minutes left over… which you must agree, is a stroke of luck…
thank you for your time