Filed under poetry | Tags: · avant-garde, dada, graphic design, japan, poetry, typography, visual poetry
The poetry anthology Shikei senkoku “is one of Mavo’s best-known projects and the group’s only collaborative book design. Mavo executed the entire layout of Hagiwara’s anthology, deciding everything down to the pitch of the text. It is one of the finest examples of a successful integration of text, design, typography, and illustration.
At the time, Shikei senkoku was considered extremely experimental graphically. As Takahashi Shūichirō has noted, it was designed to fit Hagiwara’s persona as a kuroki hannin (black criminal, that is, an anarchist). Without the artistic constraints placed on many commercial publications, Mavo artists were free to produce a strong visual response to the tumultuous poems. Okada did most of the illustrations for the volume, as well as designing the cover. It consists of two bold black lattices on both the left and right borders, a yellow band at the top with the author’s name, a thicker red band with the book title below this, a bluish circle in the center, and a black-and-white grid pattern at the bottom with boxes filled in to create an abstract pattern. The tide consists of irregularly rendered, blocky characters, playfully tilted against one another, creating a horizontal rhythm across the top of the book.
Several of the illustrations inside Shikei senkoku are photographic reproductions of Mavo work already published in the group’s magazine. The rest are abstract linocuts. Line, dot, and arrow border patterns dynamically frame the texts, which are interspersed with full-page illustrations, some featuring bold, black-and-white abstract patterns.
In one example, illustrations by Okada Tatsuo and Yabashi Kimimaro face each other (pp 34-35). Okada’s untitled print, on the right-hand page, is largely rectilinear, with a few crisscrossing diagonals. The Still Life Yawns, Yabashi’s work on the left-hand page, consists of a black rectangular form with white areas cut away inside, producing free-form shapes. In another of Okada’s many untitled designs in Shikei senkoku, an anthropomorphic head springs into the composition from the left, its segmented neck pierced by a long protruding cone; black-and-white abstract shapes and line patterns animate the background (p 155). The typography used for the poems is also experimental, often incorporating symbols and shapes to substitute for characters and letters (pp 130-131).” (from Gennifer Weisenfeld, Mavo, 2002, pp 197-200)
With illustrations by Mavo (Tatsuo Okada, Kimimaro Yabashi, Tomoyoshi Murayama, Masamu Yanase, Hisao Maki, Shuzo Oura, Seiho Sawa, Tatsuo Toda, Michinao Takamizawa)
Publisher Chōryūsha, Tokyo, 1925
via Waseda University Library, (2)