'... Placebos are pseudo-medications that in fact do not contain an active ingredient—'candy-coated sugar pills [that] fake your body into feeling better while leaving it defenseless.' !
Following artistic practices and design experiments that have previously dealt with the effects of commercial design on its consumers, graphic designer and artist Jan Tomson presents his first solo art exhibition 'Commercial Graphics'. !
The exhibition is comprised of nine works especially produced for the occasion. There are half-exposed light boxes, projecting through interrupted panels and lines of colour; colourful plexiglas fragments framed against backdrops of gold and silver; small and large collages arranged both inside and outside of the casings that compose them. Here, Tomson narrows the mainstream language of commercial design to its primary modes and materials of production in order to expose its inner workings. Considering the floods of illuminated signs and commercial messages, he questions the ability of an abstract form and colour to turn into a readable signal and start to gain authority.!
Tomson retains the concept of a facade—hence some of the frames remain unpainted on the sides. The designed surface of the works is both transparent and spatial, revealing the psychological manipulations used in the process of designing. The switching between the negative and positive spaces that is usually concealed in order to activate a subconscious level of perception, is here deliberately brought to the fore. The eye slides from the colourful lines on the glass to the image behind the glass, catching the shadows in between as well. Rather than concealing content, Tomson’s surfaces and facades are the very spaces of negotiation.!
Tomson is a freelance graphic designer and a tutor at the Estonian Academy of Arts Graphic Design department. He has worked in various fields including music, theatre and art. His works include tram and buss designs with optical pattern features for the opening of the KUMU art museum; album designs for Pastacas, Vaiko Eplik, Chalice, Kohviradio, Mari Kalkun and many other Estonian musicians; visual identity and graphic design for Estonian expositions at the XV Tallinn Print Triennial and London Architecture Festival (with Indrek Sirkel); artistic director and co-author of theatre NO70’s play “From The Roof”. Tomson’s works
have been shown at group shows in Helsinki and Stockholm, and his recent publication “Vanishing Point” was published by an independent Estonian publishing house Lugemik.