For over a century, the Olympics’ Organising Committees have selected posters to drum up excitement for the games. This week the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo unveiled 20 new posters to increase “momentum” over the coming year.
Renowned Japanese and international artists such as Chris Ofili, Naoki Urasawa, Philippe Weisbecker and Viviane Sassen have produced eye-catching designs to reflect Japan’s culture and the Olympics’ strong ethos.
“flow line” by Tokyo-based graphic designer Daijiro Ohara evokes the movement of the Olympic torch as it travels through 800 Japanese municipalities. Interconnecting lines in Ohara’s poster represent “threads of narrative foreshadowing.”
“I imagined the gods of sports descending on Japan from a sky filled with clouds resembling turbulent waves,” remarked Japanese manga artist Hirohiko Araki about his dynamic poster, which was inspired by Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave.”
Japanese outsider artist Tomoyuki Shinki conveys the strength and energy of wheelchair basketball players in “Offense No.7”. “I tried to capture that energy using bright colors. I sincerely hope viewers, whether they are feeling cheerful or down, will be inspired and encouraged by the courage of the athletes, and by the appeal and compelling power of para sports,” commented Shinki.
Tomoko Konoike, a Japanese surrealist painter, has perhaps created the most striking image selected by the panel this year. Filling the poster with its swirling kaleidoscope of vibrant fur, a fantastical creature yells at the viewer in defiance. “Wild Things – Hachilympic” explores how our individual differences can, in fact, unite us. “As animals, each human being grasps the world with totally different perceptions,” explained Konoike, “we see the world through our own umwelts. None are the same. No words are identical.”
Tokyo 2020 has already seen its fair share of controversy, with allegations of corruption, overspending and over-performance. The new exhibition, however, hopes to promote cultural and sporting understanding through its 12 posters for the Olympics and 8 for the Paralympics.
“Tokyo 2020 Official Art Posters” will be on display from 7 January – 16 February.