On this year’s Viennale poster we see a stately, roaring feline predator. Various artistic techniques are combined here: The brushwork emphasizes the curvaceous form and suggests agility and power, thus breathing life into it, while the print highlights the lively, iridescent color and refers to the pictorial symbolism of oriental art. It is a depiction from the early 19th century, which has traversed cultures and traditions and still has an extremely mysterious effect today. The original work was created by the greatest master of ukiyo-e art, Katsushika Hokusai, who transported historical and mythical subjects into the modern era by combining woodblock printing and painting, and also influenced 19th-century European artists – from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard to Paul Gauguin.
Hokusai created a dynamic figure full of temperament, reminiscent of the movement that is also expressed in his masterpiece Under the Wave off Kanagawa from his famous Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series. A roaring lion that awakens from its torpor and heralds a festival in which everyone passionately participates – the Viennale, that season of cinema and soul-stirring activity.
Like the shishi (i.e. guardian lion) that is supposed to protect against misfortune, this feline predator is the perfect talisman for a festival of inspiration and encounter; it represents not only the courage of filmmaking presented in cinemas, but also the profound, cultural and social bridge-building that it strives for, and for which a festival history now spanning 60 years stands.
Even today, in 2022, the Viennale holds its ground in a difficult environment and in a challenging time for human civilization, aiming to be a reliable place for exchange and communication.