Posters. Nelu Wolfensohn, Montreal

Nelu Wolfensohn is a professor with the École de design (School of Design) de l'Université du Québec Montréal (UQAM) and the director of CRIN, the Centre de recherches des images numériques, UQAM (Digital Images Research Centre). A poster artist of international reputation, his work in this field is  well known and received more than 150 awards in Montreal, New York, L.A., Mexico City, Paris, Jerusalem, Seoul, Toyama, Toronto, Warsaw and Zurich and is part of various museums, libraries and private collections.

A word about posters

I believe in the power of images, printed or digital. 

In this silent but eloquent world, posters occupy a special place. At their best, they encapsulate society’s economical, political, social and cultural values and convey powerful visual metaphors through which meanings and messages can be easily understood.

Covering subjects as various as political events, music, design, theatre, conferences or university life, my posters do not fit in a rectilinear narrative universe. Rather than translating the perception of the concrete world, the images molt, representing “something else” in place of an intrinsic reality.

I do not have a well-defined, immediately recognizable personal style. 

I believe that staying prisoner of a repetitious image-making pattern enhances formalism, leading as a result to an excessive dependence on prescribed forms with a detrimental effect on idea’s substance.

Instead, my work is multifaceted — a realm in which concepts are an essential preoccupation and where photography, illustration or typography takes the lead, as needed. My graphic discourse obeys to an allegorical communication’s logic, while the aesthetic and formal aspects of the image are a second consideration. 

However, a metaphoric approach does not automatically exclude the form richness, 

so my posters, programmed to strike a visual blow, contain often an iron fist wrapped in a sumptuous velvet glove.

Nowadays, I can’t but observe the decline of the traditional poster. 

Once a powerful printed statement, its actual impact is almost nil in this unbounded 

Web era. In order to survive, serve new causes and reach a much larger public, 

posters need to adapt. It is obvious to me that Internet is the place where change 

must occur. 

Consequently, rethinking and repositioning the poster as a new/old 

propaganda tool, is an important mission for all poster designers. In a new 

globalized context, they can shape opinions and influence events. This, implies larger political, social and cultural responsibilities, that have to be assumed.

Nelu Wolfensohn, 2009