13 December 2019 – 16 March 2020
This winter Tate Liverpool presents the first UK solo display of Swiss-Argentine artist Vivian Suter (b. 1949). The artist presents her recent work Nisyros (Vivian’s Bed) 2016–17, her largest installation to date consisting of 53 large-scale, brightly coloured paintings inspired by the tropical landscape of Panajachel, in Guatemala, Central America where she lives and works.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Suter moved to Panajachel in 1982, where she has made her home with her mother, artist Elisabeth Wild, on the grounds of a former coffee plantation. Her studios are open-air wooden structures located amid the lush rainforest. Here, the backdrop of trees, vibrant flowers, and sounds of tropical birds serves as inspiration for Suter’s abstract paintings. The colours, motifs, and movement of her brushstrokes are influenced by organic shapes, with a palette that ranges from various shades of green to dominant reds and yellows.
In 2005 a tropical storm destroyed large parts of Panajachel and flooded one of Suter's studios resulting in damage to her works. However, the artist decided to purposefully leave her canvases outdoors, embracing the influence of nature. Allowing the tropical climate to become an active agent in the creation of the work, the paintings incorporate natural substances such as volcanic and botanical matter as well as micro-organisms. Occasionally, remnants of the surrounding landscape can be found in her paintings – leaves or twigs congealed onto batches of thick paint, or random imprints of her dog’s paws.
Nisyros (Vivian’s Bed) is representative of this defining shift in her approach to painting. Created on unstretched and untreated canvas, the works are suspended in space to create an immersive environment, and form a record of the passage of time, of the traces of daily activity in the rainforest, and of the environmental conditions in which they were made.
Vivian Suter has been featured in solo and group exhibitions around the world, including Vivian Suter: el bosque interior, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2018-19; La Canícula, The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada, 2018; Lala Mountain - Panajachel, 11th Taipei Biennial, 2018; Documenta 14, Kassel and Athens, 2017; Intrépida, Featuring Elisabeth Wild Fantasías, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, 2014; Bienal de São Paulo, 2014.
Vivian Suter is curated by Kasia Redzisz, Senior Curator and Tamar Hemmes, Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool.
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