Rylsee designs the poster for the 58th Montreux Jazz Festival
“ An ephemeral city of collective dreams”
Geneva artist Rylsee signs the poster for the 58th Montreux Jazz Festival, to be held from July 5 to 20, 2024. Playful and teeming with details, the street art poster by Geneva artist Rylsee captures the excitement of a wild night at the Montreux Jazz Festival, focusing on the festivalgoers and their stories.
The 58th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival will be a special one, as it reinvents itself outside the walls of the Convention Centre. In this unusual context, Rylsee has imagined its own Festival architecture with multiple levels of interpretation, centred around the initials ‘MJF’ that cleverly provide the foundation for stages, balconies, terraces and staircases. A closer look reveals the iconic imagery of Montreux – the lake, quays, palaces and palm trees – and above all, hundreds of festivalgoers. Each glance at the poster reveals new stories, references and amusing details.
“ I see Montreux Jazz Festival as a kind of ephemeral city. It’s built up over a few weeks and doesn’t exist for the rest of the year. Suddenly, it’s full of people, all of whom have experiences that are often more intense in one evening than in a whole year. And then, finally, it’s all gone. We’re left with our shared memories and dreams ” – Rylsee
A Berlin-based artist from Geneva, Rylsee is a keen observer of MJF, which he experienced both by attending the festival and by accompanying his father, a former festival employee, behind the scenes. In almost 60 years of poster work in Montreux, he is the first to focus on the attendees and the way the iconic festival takes over the town. The focal point of the design is the myriad of characters enjoying the event and their various adventures – whether they are euphoric, romantic, family-oriented, comical, hallucinatory, or even a little subversive.
Daily festival scenes
In a “Where’s Waldo” fashion, Rylsee has populated his poster with scenes from the daily life of the Festival. The characters are ‘souls’ or ‘spirits’ devoid of race or gender, and the staff are reimagined as octopuses because they’re ‘always doing a thousand things at once’.
Rylsee cartoons an evening at the Festival in all its madness and splendor, unfiltered and with plenty of humor. Among the countless details to be spotted are technicians moving flight cases, children on their parents’ shoulders, duck breast sandwich eaters, collective selfies, unicorn swims, table dances, pogos, glasses spilled on the DJ’s turntables, falls down the stairs, and much more.
“ I’ve always loved drawing imaginary towns and inventing stories for them. That’s what I wanted to apply to the Festival’s image. What you remember about an evening in Montreux is the music, but it’s also, above all, the moments of sharing and celebration, the encounters, the laughter and even the tears. I wanted to illustrate this popular, lively and human aspect.” – Rylsee
Emblematic posters since 1967
Rylsee’s poster is full of easter eggs, including dedications to his family and friends, and references to his style and previous work. These include a reference to his own poster and a tribute to three other, iconic Montreux posters by Keith Haring, Nikki de Saint Phalle and Malika Favre (in the stairwell of the letter ‘J’).
Since 1967, the festival has given Swiss and international artists carte blanche to design its official poster. In 1982, Jean Tinguely left his indelible mark that has become the festival’s recognisable logo. Keith Haring designed three variations in 1983, then teamed up with Andy Warhol in 1986. David Bowie got in on the act in 1995, as did Yoann Lemoine (Woodkid), Malika Favre, Christian Marclay, Ignasi Monreal, JR and Camille Walala more recently.
The Berlin based Swiss Artist has developed his reputation and skills through diverse forms of art. Ranging from graffiti, graphic design, hand lettering, and an avant- garde approach to typography. Inspired by moments of everyday life, the city and the passion for skateboarding, laced to the desire to make people smile. Rylsee recently collaborated with Caran d’Ache to create various special editions, inclu- ding a sketchbook and a lettering set featuring his favorite tools.