Tao of Book Design

Exhibition Preface

I admire all the authors whose books are designed by Mr. Lu jingren.

I have written or edited a number of books, but none of them was designed by “Lu Jingren”. Of course, it was not because Mr. Jingren refused to design for me, instead, I have been thinking that I should ask for such a favor when I am about to publish a really good book.

In fact, he started to work at China Youth Publishing Group in 1980s, and then we became colleagues at the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University. It has been thirty years since we knew each other, and I have the collection of many of his works in my study room. From my contact with Mr. Jingren, I have also witnessed the huge progress as well as the twists and turns in the development of artistic book design in China. Mr. Jingren, who was once a fellow and friend of mine specialized in design, now has grown into “a master of book design”.

My comment on him represents an observation and a respect from the perspective of a peer, so it is easy to find how rich the content below my word “iceberg” is! In the wave of design renaissance after the 10-year Cultural Revolution, the “white horse” of graphic design has been a pioneer, while the book design that integrates editing and design, text-image layout, texts and illustrations seems to be a dazzling crown on the white horse, and the core figure in “crown” is exactly Mr. Lu Jingren.

How should a book be designed on earth? Should it be designed for illustration, for a promotion clamoring for public attention, or for a creative development? Indeed, there is no answer to this question. I have asked Mr. Cao Xingzhi (Hang Yuehe), a poet and book designer, on this issue when he gave his book Initial Sweetness (《最初的蜜》) to me as a gift, then he slowly read the engraving-like designed line of words on the cover of the poetry – “lead you to meet yourself”.

I believe Mr. Jingren’s prominent achievements are largely attributed to his stance of design art – leading readers to “meet themselves” with his wisdom, rather than giving way to the content, nor surpassing the content subjectively or pandering to the market.

“To lead” refers to the design technique, while “to meet” is an art, and to meet “oneself” is the path. The “oneself” can either by the author “himself/herself”, or the “designer” Mr. Jingren himself, or the readers themselves after reading the book. These “oneselves” have formed Chinese “themselves” and even Asian “themselves” in the process of spreading these books.

The planner used a precise expression to describe the theme of the activity – “Tao of Book Design – A 40 years journey of Book Design by Lu jingren”, namely “to achieve oriental style without drawing directly from the past, to capture modern spirit without mimicking the West”. This exactly reflects Mr. Jingren’s art and design pursuit, embodying the contemporary design thought of China. I remember years ago, Mr. Kohei Sugiura, Mr. Jingren and I have agreed to hold a discussion on the Asian culture and design. Although our agreement has been delayed for various reasons, Mr. Jingren has already offered the best answer to the development of culture and design with his practice.

Hereby I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to this occasion.

Hang Jian
Beside the lakeside, Hangzhou, on Aug. 31, 2017
About the exhibition
Opening time: 2017.11.5, 10:30
Duration: 2017.11.05 – 2017.11.24
Location: 2/F Exhibition Hall of Building No.1
Courtesy of the artist and Today Art Museum, for further information please visit www.todayartmuseum.com.

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