Kamekura Hiroshima Appeals

Kamekura’s work for Hiroshima Appeals (1983) series of posters was a shocking and contemplative piece on the horrors of WWII. The poster series was created to symbolize an era of peace following the war. His personal take on the symbolism of the burning butterflies was a profound statement on “The beauty and grace of the image serves to undermine the horror and tragedy of war” (Van de Ven, 2005). When asked about how he approached the designing of the poster Kamekura took inspiration from the meanings behind, “skeletons and nuclear mushroom clouds are beautiful and frightening. I wondered what I could make that had those qualities, but that you could also hang in a room. I thought of burning butterflies” (Kamekura, 1983).

The bright streaks of the burning wings contrast vividly against the delicate and diluted colors of the butterfly wings. The composition of the piece is meant to be a counter to the preconceived notion of designing things based on the nuclear strikes on Japan that deliberately omits any imagery regarding the bombs or mushroom clouds. Kamekura wanted to translate the grace and beauty of the many people that lost their lives in a flash of light and flame on the day the bombs dropped. It’s meant to serve as a snapshot into the intensity of that loss of life the moment everything went up in flames.

This poster doesn’t match his usual art style, which is interesting as this piece seems like it’s an illustration and almost all his prior work had been photography or simplistic. Kamekura’s ideology on the world and design still come out in full effect on this piece, seeing as it was meant as a message for world peace made by a Japanese graphic designer that wanted to unite the western design world with the traditions of Japan. While the message was important for looking back on the horrors of WWII, it was also vitally important to Japan being seen as a prominent power in the field of design, seeing as they had enough influence in terms of design to spark discussion on an international scale through works of art alone.

Works Cited:

“Hiroshima Appeals Poster.” Hiroshima Appeals Poster – MAAS, collection.maas.museum/object/349928.

Dong, KaiLin. “Yusaku Kamekura Biography – KaiLin Dong – Medium.” Medium, Medium, 12 Feb. 2017, medium.com/@kailindong/yusaku-kamekura-biography-8b15c3fcb0c7.