Discover Urban Italy at Toi Poneke Gallery

9 May 2012

The patterns and textures of Italian streets are the inspiration behind designer Lee Jensen's L'abbondanza della strada (The abundance of the street), showing at Toi Poneke Gallery from Friday 18 May.

The exhibition features Jensen's plans for imaginary city spaces - the piazzas of la citta nuova - brought to life through large, bold, geometric prints and vinyl wall drawings.

Jensen initially became interested in Italy when he was asked to deliver a lecture on Futurism - an art movement that began in Italy during the early twentieth century.

"I was fascinated by this group of artists who'd had enough of looking backwards, at past glories. The Futurists intended to celebrate the speed and technology of the new century," says Jensen, a lecturer in Communication Design at Massey University.

Following that, he had the chance to participate in a typographic workshop in Rome last year.

"We had one week to devise a typographic response to the city's environment. This is the 'walking around with eyes open' stuff - seeing the marble marquetry of the Pantheon, the cobbled Roman streets, the ecclesiastic shopping district around Via dei Cestari.

"In Italy, the past and present are everyday companions and that's what I really liked; different ages - ancient, renaissance, baroque, and modernist, all right there."

Jensen designed a geometric typeface called Magliana, based on Roman architecture. L'abbondanza della strada (The abundance of the street) - Jensen's first solo show - extends this study of letterforms (the design of individual letters) to include elaborate collages and vinyl wall drawings.

"I created them piece-by-piece from snippets of scanned textures and fragments collected from Italian streets. I transformed flyers from shops, postcards, old book pages and scraps of paper into complex and colourful geometric compositions."

Jensen hopes people will enjoy the artworks and likens it to the experience of walking through a new city.

Jensen will give a free artist's talk at 5.30pm on Wednesday 23 May at Toi Poneke Gallery. 

L'abbondanza della strada  (The abundance of the street) runs from Friday 18 May until Saturday 9 June at Toi Poneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street.

More Information

Lee Jensen
Phone: (04) 801 5799 x 62536 or 021 253 7828

Clayton Anderson
Council Communications
Phone: (04) 801 3695 or 021 227 8595