70 Hungarian postcards to the 70-year-old Israel

The genius visual messenger
Dan Reisinger

By Gabriella Fenyves - 2018-04-09

Visual messages affect all of us. There are some among us who write these, but we're all their readers.

 

Let us now read the works created by Dan Reisinger, which have become natural parts of our everyday life in Israel. If we were to list all that we take for granted as part of the Israeli visual language, the lettering, signs, company logos, or images, we’d surprisingly often find the same artist of Hungarian origin, Dan Reisinger behind them. Streets, advertisements, the public life and newspapers are filled with the logos designed by him for various construction companies, insurance companies, television studios, newspapers, leading cultural institutions, gas stations, and universities. Or if we just take the Teva medicine from the pharmacy back home, take the train, take a can of paint from Tambur, Lilly's toilet paper, or the fruit labeled Carmel. The most well-known ones are the logos of the Tel-Aviv Museum, El-Al, Electra, or of Africa Israel.

 

Let’s take for example an, in our everyday lives lesser known military award. The visual parallelism indicates a conceptual parallel: on the two waves the sword and the laurel stand for the interconnected pair of power and glory; their contour leaves the round frame of the medal and it is written into the endlessness of the sky signified by the blue ribbon.


One of the most astonishing pieces among the posters is the 1993 Megint? [Again?], whose pictorial simplicity, the red star breaking into pieces along the outlines of a swastika, also constitutes a shocking political prediction. Bertold Brecht looks at the world in different depths wearing the red-green 3D glasses on the 1998 poster.

On the Habima emblem the starting and closing letters look like the curtains of the stage opening. The packaging of Teva's drugs reminds us of colorful building blocks. His brilliant image the wolf and lamb poster is a visual fairy tale lesson: "We tried everything except separation." (Will they eat each other? I only hope it's not about the Palestinian and Israeli two-state solution).

He plays with the seemingly endless variations of patterns using basic colors and forms on the perpetual wall calendar of the New York MoMA (1987).

 

All his work is based on the modern imagery created with simple basic colors and shapes, which I see as being similar to the problem of bread baking. The fewer the ingredients are, the harder it is to hit the flawless ratio.

 

Most of the companies have not yet changed their logo, as opposed to our paper money, because they kept their modernity amidst the fast-moving trends.

 

Dan Reisinger was born in 1934 in Magyarkanizsa, to a Hungarian-Jewish family. This village used to formerly belong to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and later became part of the former Yugoslavia.

 

The boy was has not yet turned ten when he lost almost all his family. As an adolescent he joined the partisans and participated in their actions. After the war, in 1949, he moved to Israel with his mother and stepfather.

 

At the age of sixteen, he was admitted to the Bezalel University of Arts as the youngest student. He studied 1957 in Brussels and then in London (1964-66), at the Central School of Art and Design, where he studied three-dimensional design.

 

Returning to Israel, he opened his own studio in Tel-Aviv. There was a long line of public and private orders, exhibitions and posters, an incredibly rich creative career, which earned him the largest award of the State of Israel, the Israeli Prize (Pras Israel).

 

It warms my heart that, in his biography, he emphasized that in 2003 he was invited to Budapest by the Hungarian Prime Minister and, commissioned by the Holocaust Commemoration Commission, they built a memorial for the forced labor-service victims on the basis of his design.

 

His latest exhibition has just opened about a month ago at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem under the title Útjelzések [Roadsigns], to showcase his 60-years of life work. The exhibition is open until June 3rd.

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