Vivian Suter grew up in Switzerland and moved to Guatemala as an adult where she established her new home and a studio. Living in the middle of a jungle allowed her to be influenced by her surroundings such as exotic plants and flowers, animals, and the fluctuating weather of the tropical environment. She creates abstract paintings that reveal the jungle as she has come to discover it. Large sized unstretched canvases are covered in colour, dynamic brushwork and organic patterns.
However, a tropical storm occurred in 2005, damaging many areas of Panajachel including Suter’s studio. Her canvases were coated in dirt and also suffered stains from rain water, but instead of seeing it negatively, Suter “saw her work developing in response to, and in harmony with, its environment.” Following this circumstance she has adapted the ever-changing and uncertain aspects of her home and even welcomes the participation of her environment into her work. Now, as part of her practice she leaves her canvases outside intentionally for them to soak up the traces of her surroundings including falling leaves, mud, rain, and even animals.
For the exhibition at the Camden Arts Centre, Vivian Suter took over the gallery space by displaying her compelling canvases which filled up the walls, ceiling and even the floor. They were arranged in a way that let them overlap other canvases and were suspended from the ceiling allowing them to reaching down to the floor.
Although the canvases were taken out of their original setting in which they had been created, Suter’s work references their particular environment and exposes the ecological resource. I find it remarkable how Suter has engaged with her home surroundings and included them directly in the canvases themselves, letting her environment play a part in her practice beyond her control. I believe everyone is affected by their own close home environment, whether this is in a positive or negative way, and Suter incorporates her home in an inspiring and rare manner.