He was born in 1957 in Jerusalem, Israel. He comes from a family that has lived in Poland for 650 years. Both of his parents were born in Będzin and were Holocaust survivors. His mother was interred in multiple labor camps, and his father survived Auschwitz. Their story is reflected in Yossi’s career as a human rights activist and environmental advocate. Yossi is one of the most outstanding Israeli graphic designers, a poster artist admired and awarded all over the world for his work on social and political issues. His posters tackle contemporary and universal issues humanity faces – war, intolerance and human rights violations. His works also often tackle the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His creations are full of drama and explosive, often controversial themes, full of wit and irony. The imagery he uses is startling and sometimes even revolting. But most of all, the messages are global, understandable across cultural boundaries. During design he is always on the lookout for new tools and ideas; “I take A and C and combine them so that a new meaning emerges from them. Something that has never been before, ” he says – “Because a good poster should manipulate and surprise the viewer; it should move his heart and mind in unexpected ways.” Yossi Lemel has an extensive professional background. Over the course of his career he was the creative director of an advertising agency, curator and teacher, and lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, from which he graduated himself. Currently he lectures at the Holon Institute of Technology HIT in Israel. Organizations he collaborated with include Amnesty International, Greenpeace the Mediterranean, Israel’s civil rights organization, and the United Nations Refugee Agency.
He has had over 20 individual poster exhibitions in Berlin, Hamburg, Denver, New Orleans, Istanbul, Casale Monferrato (Italy), Warsaw, Stockholm, Trnava (Slovakia) La Paz, Bolivia and Jerusalem. He is invited to the jury of biennial and poster competitions all over the world, and he was also chairman of the jury of the International Poster Competition, organized in 2019 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Polish Olympic Committee.
“Posters should inform, create awareness, confront and surprise the viewer”, he tells us at the end. Finally, he suggests to younger colleagues that they always keep their authenticity, passion, curiosity and willingness to experiment.”
His achievements include over 70 prestigious awards, such as the Grand Prix at the 1st Korean Poster Biennale, a gold medal at Promax Canada, a gold medal at the Mexico Biennale, The Golden Bee Award Moscow, Gold and Silver Awards at Graphis Poster New York 2021 and more. His works are in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Musée de la Publicité, Palais du Louvre in Paris, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, DKW, Kunstmuseum Cottbus, National Museum in Poznań, and Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich.
He had several exhibitions in Poland. In 2008, at the National Museum in Poznań, he presented the series “My Heart”, in which he reconstructed the pre-war life of his mother and her sisters. The exhibition told the story of an Ultraorthodox Jewish family in Bedzin, and the story through scenes of their apartment and the market square, streets and castle in their hometown. It was a continuation of a series of photographs made three years earlier in the former concentration camps Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen, entitled “1945-2005 Yossi Lemel and his Father”. In the pictures he played the role of his own father Bernard (Berisch) Dov Lemel.
In 2019, as part of the 16th Jewish Culture Festival “Singer’s Warsaw” in the art gallery of Warsaw’s University of Fine Art, he presented his own photocompositions “The Last Chassid of Radomsko”, in which he also personally appeared in all the photos. The exhibition portrayed a journey in the footsteps of his grandfather, a rabbi in the lost Chassidic court of Radomsko.
In November 2020, Poznań UAP Municipal Galleries presented a virtual exhibition of his poster series “CORONA CASE: A journey to Pandemia”. Here, Yossi Lemel showed a large number of original, extremely creative images of the virus, designed over the course of the pandemic and global quarantine.