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Anthony und Cleopatra by Lex Drewinski

Today we look at Anthony und Cleopatra by Lex Drewinski for Artwork in Focus. Join me Divvya Nirula as I explore and present my experience of the selected artwork.

Artwork in Focus

Title: Anthony and Cleopatra
Artist : Lex Drewinski                    
Year : 1996
Medium : Graphic Art design

Anthony and Cleopatra, by Lex Drewinski
image courtesy : posterposter

Anthony und Cleopatra

Lex Drewinski, master of minimal detail and maximum messaging takes the exotic characters presented in Shakespeare’s play and gives them a new graphic dimension. The simple and potent design by Lex Drewinki, was created for Germany’s Imagine Theatre plays. Imagine Theatre has a legacy of entertainment stretching back over 25 years. Presently the Imagine Theatre team is led by Steve Boden and Sarah Boden and they facilitate productions in multiple venues.

Just as Shakespeare’s words and theatrical enactments hold our attention so does this graphic print – Anthony und Cleopatra. For this particular re-imagination of Shakespeare’s 1606 classic, Drewinski looks to the snake and Cleopatra’s relationship with it. As it symbolises death as well the lover whom she craves. He looks to one most critical scene where, Cleopatra is certain that Anthony has died, she sees her end is near. The magnificent queen, proud and escaping capture, resigns herself to death. She kills herself by allowing an asp (a venomous snake species found specifically in the Nile region) to bite her breast.

The posters use of shock, violent imagery and dark humour is totally faithful to the scene. Preceding her tragic death, Cleopatra has to convince the leering clown ‘to hand over the pretty worm’. Anthony and Cleopatra remains as one of Shakespeare’s most bold plays. It drew amply on sexuality, overtly and covertly, intertwining power, lust and corruption seamlessly.

Drewinski and Minimalist Style

Drewinski is deliberately frugal with his colours. He achieves maximum impact with the minimum. This is the hallmark of his style. He says,

“I see this as a next logical step, where the reduction of colour naturally follows the simplification of form. I’m with colors as I’m with money: if I spent everything today, I will have nothing left for tomorrow.”

Whenever I look at Drewinski’s work I am always amazed at how simple, easy and effortless it looks. Rest assured I know it is now. His work is the perfect example of the concept of less is more. To achieve the effect Drewinski has confessed that he thinks in terms of ‘SIGNS’. The majority of his work transmits to the viewer, the large, complex ideas, solely through imagery. Anthony und Cleopatra is a perfect example of this. Where through the imagery we are invited and intrigues by a story we may know, or want to know. In my opinion it is truly the highest level of mastery in the style of poster making.

Poster – Method and Message

A methodical approach to technique is important. Lex begins with drawing his ideas on paper. He then processes the images on the computer and prepares the films for screen print. He prefers to do this manually, if possible, using scissors.

Throughout the entire process, what is important for him is that the message remains his focal point. And therefore the central focus of the viewer as well. He is clear about what he wants to convey. Lex has famously commented on this, saying,

“Poster without a message is like a pack of C4 without a detonator.”

Further exploring the theme of his style and what it brings to the audience Drewinski says,

“A journalist once wrote that my posters are traffic signs on the road of life. This is a great description of what I‘m trying to achieve. It‘s a shame, however, that I cannot fine people for violating these signs as they go through life.”


Want to read more of my views on artworks that hold my attention ? Visit the archive for Artwork in Focus.

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