Yusaku Kamekura at the Japan Foundation (131 Bloor West), to March 24. 416-966-1600. Rating: NNNN
Our current visual culture of Napster kitty logos and Nike swooshes starts with Yusaku Kamekura , whose design career is the subject of a handsome retrospective at the Japan Foundation .
His posters and graphic works display an uncanny Japanese knack for using visual impact and negative space to maximum effect.
The show follows the development of an artist who kicked our visual sophistication up a notch and transformed design culture in the process.
Kamekura pioneered many design trends we currently take for granted.
An enthusiastic student of the Bauhaus, he was the first Japanese graphic artist to stress the importance of design in all aspects of modern life.
He's also credited with the invention of corporate branding, essentially founding the modern graphic design business.
Kamekura gained world recognition for his posters for the 1964 Olympics, when Japan sought to rebrand itself as a sleek First World contender after the devastation of the second world war.
Forty years later, the posters, which use photographs (an Olympic first) presented with a stunningly simple visual logic, are still strikingly contemporary.
His other work is marked by a prescient tinkering with colour and form, borrowing from the entire range of 20th-century styles, from constructivism to op art and beyond. His minimalist approach to line and shape is offset by his use of bright mixed hues - he rarely uses primary colours.
It's obvious that each poster is the refined end product of a long and patient process of elimination and compression.
Kamekura takes away what isn't needed and leaves the essentials in place.