Untitled, n.d.
Untitled, n.d. Untitled, n.d., 2023

Installation view: The Ecologies of Peace. Works from the TBA21 Collection, Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía C3A, Córdoba, Spain, 2024. Photo: Imagen Subliminal (Rocio Romero y Miguel de Guzmán).

Vivian Suter, a Swiss-Argentinian artist born in Buenos Aires in 1949, is known for dynamic and engaging works that merge painting and installation. Relocating to Switzerland in her youth introduced her to the European art scene, yet it was her move to Panajachel, Guatemala, in the early 1980s that deeply shaped her artistic methods and vision. Catastrophic landslides in 2005 and 2010, which buried her stored works under mud, marked a pivotal transformation in her approach to art, challenging her notion of authorship and the role of natural forces in the creative process. Initially perceiving these events as destruction, Suter’s perspective evolved, leading her to embrace nature’s impact as an essential, creative dialogue.

Suter’s practice is now characterized by an intentional exposure of her work to the elements, crafting her works in both the studio and the natural environment. Her use of large formats and vivid colors, set against the backdrop of her tropical garden, fosters a dynamic interaction with the surroundings. Unstretched canvases are positioned on the ground or suspended from trees, capturing the imprints of dust, mud, leaves, mangoes, insects, and the casual presence of her dogs. This process, governed by organic transformation and chance, results in artworks that embody a deep connection with the natural world.

Suter's open-air creations, vulnerable to weather and wildlife, showcase the serendipity of nature as a co-creator. Her unstretched canvases, draped or loosely hung, blur the lines between painting and sculpture, inviting viewers into an immersive experience reminiscent of navigating a lush landscape. The vivid hues, natural forms, and textures in her work summon the essence of the rainforest, offering a sensory journey that is both visual and tactile.

By weaving the unpredictability of nature into the fabric of her art, Suter challenges conventional painting paradigms, prioritizing the creative process and its environmental context over fixed outcomes. Her approach not only redefines the boundaries of painting but also prompts a deeper reflection on the interplay between human creativity and the natural environment.