Sylvia Libedinsky: The Art of The Absurd


This exhibition brings together a remarkable body of work by an artist whose wry humour

and distinctive 2-D and 3-D graphic art defies categorisation. Work in a variety of media

- acrylic and/or ink on paper, card and fabric, as well as works made from foam, fabric and

folded card, LED sculptures and light and shadow projections - demonstrates Libedinsky’s

intriguingly eclectic output: what appears to be spontaneous wit is in fact the result of

a profound, carefully considered and irreverent understanding of life’s many absurdities.

About Sylvia

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Libedinsky studied architecture at the Universidad de

Buenos Aires, graduating in 1967. She was particularly influenced by the British approach

to architecture, specifically in relation to the education sector. Following her degree,

Sylvia won a post-graduate scholarship to study school buildings at the Bouwcentrum in

Rotterdam. Sylvia was interested in the work of the GLC and went on to secure a position

in the Schools Division of the Architecture Department.

After working as an assistant on the plans for what was then the Baker Street Polytechnic,

Libedinsky went on to design a youth club and two primary schools in Hackney and Brixton.

Whilst working in the architecture department of the Greater London Council, Sylvia designed

foldable cardboard toys in the shape of cartoon-like animals for the toy company 345. Folding

card as a medium has remained a constant in Libedinsky’s work – this exhibition includes a

number of faces and still lifes.

During this period, Libedinsky also designed ‘MAZE’ – a puzzle game bought by ROR, the

company owned by Ringo Starr and Robin Cruikshank, as well as a giant cube game which was

used as seating at an ICA exhibition – ‘PSSHAK’ in 1972 – to illustrate the concept of modular

co-ordination.

In the early 1970s, now with two small children, she diversified into highly tactile foam

toys, producing quirky designs for coffee cups, typewriters and cameras. These designs

were exhibited at the Frankfurt Design Fair, which led to a sizeable order from a German

wholesaler. “Sadly we couldn’t fulfil the order – we didn’t have the space nor the staff nor

the materials. We didn’t even have a name or a company. We desperately needed capital.”

With the help of an indulgent bank manager, funding was secured and Sylvia was able to

present her products to the London Design Centre under a new brand name – Marshmallow.

The LDS promoted Marshallow products (typewriters, teacups and telephones) through its

catalogue and international sales took off. With a small factory in Newman Street in London’s

West End and a new partner (Ana M. Urquijo) and promoted by production and advertising

agents, the company started to build a roster of high profile clients - Ford Tractors, Sony, Au

Printemps, Waterman Pens, Biba, Liberty, Fiorucci, as well as Bloomingdales and Bergdorf

Goodman in NY, and Seibu in Tokyo; TV shows such as the Johnny Carson Show, and

individual celebrity clients such as Eve Arnold, Peter Sellers and Allen Jones. In addition, the

company was busy designing and producing film and TV props .

GX Gallery

43 Denmark Hill

Camberwell

London SE5 8RS

7th February to 1st March 2019

#artcultureexhibitionmuseum

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