Akira Uno – also known as “Aquirax” – is a prolific illustrator and graphic designer who came to prominence as the creator of ground-breaking posters for Shuji Terayama’s Tenjo Sajiki theatre group in the late 1960s.
His blend of Aubrey Beardsley-like eroticism with Max Ernst-style surrealism and sixties psychedelia helped to establish the underground ambience of Terayama’s theatre work.Aquirax posters for Terayama
Like photographer Nobuyoshi “Araki” Arai and Tetsu Kariya, creator of the “Oishinbo” manga, Uno was one of the creative spirits of the era who gravitated towards Japan’s own “Mad Men” world of advertising.
In Uno’s case, he joined the advertising department of Calpis, the maker of lactate-based soft drinks and went on to work for Max Factor. Tadanori Yokoo, who also produced phantasmagorical posters for Terayama and others, once designed material for Daiwa Securities.
In the mid-1960s, Uno also created some experimental short films which, like Terry Gillam’s Monty Python animations, manage to be both simple and disturbing. The clip above is taken from a short based on “Toi et Moi”, by early twentieth century French poet Paul Geraldy.
Sixty years on from his first works, Uno is still going strong today. In 2013, he produced the cover art for twin albums by adventurous singer-songwriter, Ringo Sheena.
Sheena CD cover
Uno continues to publish books and new works. Examples of his artistic production, ranging from plates to tote bags, can be purchased here at Poster Hari’s online shop.