200 dm³ of Breath in Paris

The exhibition of the toys designer Libuše Niklová a her son Petr Nikl

The exhibition of the toys designer Libuše Niklová a her son, versatile artist Petr Nikl

Part I: Libuše Niklová– retrospective, Musée des Arts décoratifs, 107, rue de Rivoli, Paris, June 6th – November 13th, 2011

Part II: Petr Nikl: Dialogue with Mum, Czech Centre Paris, 18, rue Bonaparte, Paris, June to September 2011

Organised by: Arbor vitae societas, Musée des Arts décoratifs, Czech Centre Paris

Accompanying programmes: Taktika Muzika

Who doesn’t know her accordion-pleated cat and inflatable Buffalo? However, fewer know that the life-work of Libuše Niklová (1934-1981) includes a considerable amount of innovative plastic toys, whose originality at the time by far exceeded the qualities of standard toy production, both local and foreign. Even fewer associate her name with the renowned visual and theatre artist Petr Nikl (1960), a member of the former Tvrdohlaví art group and author of internationally acclaimed Orbis Pictus project. Organizing Niklová’s very first retrospective exhibition was the initiative of her son whose peculiar poeticism has been greatly inspired by toys. To pay tribute to her he has designed a concurrent exhibition of his own works reflecting upon his mother’s production.

The symbolic title of the project, 200 dm³ of breath, refers to the key role which air played in all of the designer’s creations, be it little rubber figures, animals with accordion-like trunks or inflatable objects. It gave them shape and volume, allowed them to make sounds and harmonized perfectly with the elasticity and flexibility of plastic.

The designer’s retrospective in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, whose rather impressive, transparent-inflatable installation made by Petr Nikl himself, presents both Niklová’s twenty years production for Fatra Napajedla, a company with which her work is inseparably linked, as well as her early designs of toys made by Gumotex Břeclav, where she commenced her career immediately after finishing her studies at the College of Applied Arts in Uherské Hradiště.