Organized by the Museo Reina Sofía and curated by Manuel Borja-Villel, the exhibition proposes a scheme where each canvas maintains its own autonomy as a work of art, but also remains in close connection with the rest of the pieces, in a kind of evocative ecosystem of climatic, sensory and emotional experiences. In this sense, Suter's canvases hang, without a frame, in installations that seek an immediate relationship with the architectural and natural space, while inevitably referring to the environment in which they were created.


The Swiss-Argentine artist Vivian Suter (Buenos Aires, 1949), decided to leave Basel to live in the Guatemalan jungle after a solo trip through the ruins of Mesoamerica. That was in the early 1980s, and since then her stay has spanned more than thirty years in a studio located in Panajachel, on the grounds of an old coffee plantation by Lake Atitlán. From this personal Eden, surrounded by vegetation and with horizons populated by volcanoes, Suter approaches abstract painting and artistic improvisation from the natural elements that surround her.


There is a link between two cultures in her creations. Born in Argentina to European parents exiled by World War II, her relationship with Latin America is present since childhood. Her canvases are the result of a crossbreeding between the western world and the Guatemalan context: techniques, perspectives and shapes of thought that intermingle on canvas, painting and nature. Beyond the figure of the foreign artist seduced by exoticism, she is an outsider who creates a new link between worldviews.

Suter's early works, made in Switzerland in the late 1960s, were more structured. It was not until her arrival in the Guatemalan jungle that the process of work and reflection became more organic and free, especially after the tropical storms Stan, in 2005, and Agatha, in 2010. After the catastrophes, many of her canvases remained partially flooded in the mud, generating pictorial series intervened by the weather’s erratic quality. From that moment on, nature is presented almost as a co-author of the works, which move between the introspection inside her studio and the exterior, where they are impregnated with the wind, rain, mud and even small insects from the environment that map and represent the uniqueness of plant life.


During her childhood in Buenos Aires, Suter used to play hide and seek among the fabrics at her family’s factory, Estampería Belgrano. In the exhibition that the Museo Reina Sofía presents at the Palacio de Velázquez, a similar game takes place that invites the visitor to get lost among the works, colors and textures that hang inside this building with iron and glass vaults.

Related Topics