Born in 1957 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Silvia Levenson studied graphic design at the Martin Garcia Graphic School. In 1981, she fled with her husband and children to Italy, because of the threats of the military dictatorship, due to her political activities. When settled in Italy, she came back to drawing and painting.
In 1987, she visited an exhibition by the Swedish artist Bertil Vallien in New York. His glass works and the potential of the medium intrigued her. Back in Italy, Silvia researched the possibilities of working with glass without blowing it, a difficult undertaking, since in Italy the glass production was mainly focussed on glass blowing. In consequence, she explored other sources. First, in 1990, she went to the Sars Poteries in France and had workshops with Antoine Lerperlier and Vincent Van Ginneke. Having discovered the lost wax technique and how to make glass in a pottery kiln, the artist installed her own studio in Vigevano, close to Milan. Since 1994, she participates in numerous group and solo exhibitions all around the world. Moreover, her works entered in several public collections from Argentina to the United States and from Italy to Finland. Besides, she was awarded with many prices and residencies. Additionally, she gives international workshops and lectures and curates exhibitions.
Silvia uses glass in her artwork as narrative medium. In doing so, she wants to recount topics that she knows by her own and her family’s history or by other people around her. In an interview with the Glass-Art-Magazine she stated in 2016 “As an artist I have always been interested in interpersonal relationships and in the relationship between family and society.”(1) Thereby, she wants to reveal what we cannot see or do not want to see.
For Silvia, childhood is stylised to a “Golden Age” where everything was wonderful. Though, in her own childhood and in that of many other children there were disturbances, which contradict this illusion of paradise. Many works, including “Little Cinderella” from 2005, “Stai fermo” (Keep quiet) from 2015 and “Strange Little Girl” (2012-16) are talking about this. A more political aspect, but also focussed on childhood, had the travelling exhibition “Identidad Desaparecida” about forced adoptions in Argentina during the military dictatorship. The series “Welcome to Europe” created during a residency at Berlin Glass in 2016, points on children escaping to Europe, without having decided to do so. Besides, the included water wings are the result of one of the artist’s first attempts at glassblowing.(2)
Another recurring theme is the domestic environment. “Still Life” (since 2007) is reflecting on the “cosmetic of happiness” by guidebooks and websites to avoid any failure. Already in 1995, Silvia referred with the mixed media installation “Christmas with yours” to domestic violence. Ten years later, in “I see you are a bit nervous” the hand grenade appeared for the first time in her oeuvre. Here the artist denounces crimes against women, often executed by related persons. The hand grenade stands for the explosivity of love.
Since 2010, this weapon got iconic, when planted at the top of wedding cakes. Under the title “Until death do as a part”, the artist comments the traditional wedding vow, which became atrocious regarding the number of women killed by their husbands or partners. “In the name of love” (since 2015) once again picks up the subject and the pink explosive object. In the meantime, the hand grenade found its way into fashion. Based on an idea from Studio Anna Fileppo, MANTICO produces two models of bags with the graphic expression of the undetonated bomb. A part of the proceeds is assigned to “Differenza Donna” an association, which supports women against gender-based violence.(3) Recently, in 2019, the hand grenade showed up again, this time positioned on a cake plate under a glass dome. “Love” is our Artwork of the Month in March 2020 and was awarded the Premio Doc Creativity at the BOOMing Contemporary Art Show.
Silvia lives and works in Lesa, Italy.
2 Fragile Memories by Agata Waleczek, p. 27, in: art aurea 1, 2016