In 2019 we were commissioned by the Poster Museum at Wilanów in Warsaw to design two posters about the legacy of the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz as part of an international juried competition. 2019 was the fiftieth anniversary of Gombrowicz’s death.
The central motif of an eye floating against two planes is a response to Witold Gombrowicz’s observation that he always found himself “between things.” The eye is disembodied—“amputated”—the better to see and thus to “cut a path through Unreality to Reality.” Gombrowicz’s understanding of Reality includes that which is unattractive or even repugnant, a Reality suggested in the poster by the presence of a fly.
Gombrowicz describes himself as a fly in a farmyard in “A Kind of Testament.” Like a fly, Gombrowicz is drawn to the degenerate; to “subterranean” tendencies. He is also an irritant and pest. He is a provocateur.
The disembodied eye is Gombrowicz—as is the fly. Conscious of his artifice, Gombrowicz observes himself observing himself. (The poster depicts a kind of mirror.) Furthering this idea, the phrase “pół-wieczny” is also mirrored, reading from right to left.
Because of its size, prominence, and ease of legibility, one reads “Gombrowicz” before one decodes “pół-wieczny.” The act of reading left to right and then right to left creates a visual loop, a continuous circling that references the concept of “semi-eternal,” the ancillary meaning of “semicentenary” in Polish.
• Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature, Warsaw, Poland
• Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London
• Museum für Gestaltung Zurich
• Letterform Archive
• “Gombrowicz Semicentenary” (2019)
Poster Museum in Wilanów, Warsaw, Poland
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EDITION: Open (unsigned)
DIMENSIONS: 70 cm x 100 cm
MEDIA: Screen printed in black enamel, white, blue, red, and metallic silver inks on chipboard
PRINTING: Wranch Studios / Gardena
ILLUSTRATION: © 2019 Mark Fox, Design is Play / SF
DESIGN: © 2019 Mark Fox and Angie Wang, Design is Play / SF