Nous sommes très heureux de pouvoir proposer sur www.slavia-kolektiv.com, la série d'affiches Nowa Warszawa réalisée par le graphiste polonais Edgar Bąk pour le "Nowy Teatr" de Varsovie, la compagnie du désormais incontournable Krzysztof Warlikowski. Ce fut l'occasion pour nous d'échanger longuement avec l'un des graphistes les plus en vue - mais surtout, les plus exigeants - de la scène polonaise.
Le studio de ce diplômé de l'Académie des Beaux Arts de Varsovie, se consacre à la communication visuelle de différentes institutions culturelles et à la conception d'affiches, couvertures de magazines et sites web. Il est aussi le directeur artistique du magazine Monitor et donne à Poznan des cours d'architecture de l'information et de typographie. Mais Edgar Bąk est surtout l'un des témoins privilégiés de l'effervescence des années 1990 et de l'entrée de la Pologne dans l'ère globale, où, comme il le souligne, les formes disponibles sont en nombre insuffisant pour permettre à tous les graphistes de se distinguer pleinement…
En noir et blanc, des traits simples et minimalistes décomposent la capitale polonaise en fragments, captant l'essence de différents quartiers de Varsovie.
Lorsque la compagnie de théâtre a effectué cette commande, elle n'avait pas de locaux officiels, mais profondément attachée à Varsovie, son identité ne pouvait pas être dissociée de la ville, de son urbanisme et des Varsoviens.
Cette série est une belle introduction à l'approche d'Edgar Bąk marquée par l'importance du message, la géométrie et le recours à la typographie : créer un déclic est essentiel dans son langage visuel et c'est pour cette raison qu'il nous plaît tant!
"When you released the series we are proposing on our e-gallery, which is inspired by Warsaw’s districts, you said that you were amazed by how people appropriated these posters, and expressed their belonging to those districts. Was it your purpose and is this what you mean by this sense of localness?
First, I wanted to pay tribute to the city to which I moved decades ago, and where I feel very well. It quickly became clear that I was doing something that resonates and is important for the people so much that they bought neighbourhoods in which they lived despite the fact that they prefer other districts of the city. Being a neighbour is part of ones’ identity.
You love your city (we do too, although from abroad) and its urban landscape: what you think is unique to Warsaw, both with respect to other polish regional capitals and other European large cities?
This city has an incredibly complicated story, I'll try to briefly summarize. For over 200 years the country was divided between three Empires. World War I brought independence and with it the reconstruction of the city and replacement of neoclassical architecture by modern trends such as functionalism. World War II devastated the city up to 90% and rebuilding took place in the spirit of socialist realism. A mix of concrete slabs with what remained of the old urban plan. Then, years of 1990s’ postmodernism. A bit like in Berlin, many areas have remained under-developed. Flowing through Warsaw, the Wisła river is still quite wild: almost no waterfront, but several beaches. There you can meet wild pigs and beavers. It is a unique place for urban exploration."
"In reaction both to the high number of (visually good) projects using a limited amount of shapes, and to the need for graphic design to serve communication – and also commercial – purposes, you are developing the idea that authenticity is what can help distinguishing among so much projects. But what do you mean by authenticity?
Despite the educational system that unifies us, the temporary trends and customer expectations or the ubiquitous Internet, each of us has moments when he invents something new, something personal. But authenticity is not something I often think of now. I'm trying simply to spend time learning about new tools and how to play with them.
In relation with this, it seems that being from somewhere, matters to you. Can you elaborate on the relevance you give to this sense of belonging?
I do not know if there is a qualitative difference between having roots and global thinking, but in my case something good happens at the interface between both. I am very glad that I do represent a different culture from Western Europe, which is not Eastern European either. (…) Poland has always been for me the appropriate context of my work. On the one hand, there is this Polish tradition of design - and I'm not talking only about the Polish poster school, and on the other hand, the reality of our streets, the specific mix of East and West. It certainly brings a narrative that helps to create and read. As for my vision of graphic design: I believe that the image is important, especially now that it is infinitely diluted through internet. But since it is somehow limited by the language of geometry, I also know that this is not enough and that we need to look further, towards technology and the subconscious."
(Extraits de l'entretien de Slavia Kolektiv avec Edgar Bąk , 2015, tous droits réservés)