Artist: Vivian Suter
Venue: Brücke-Museum, Berlin
Exhibition Title: Bonzo’s Dream
Date: September 13, 2020 – February 14, 2021
Selected By: Big Apple Circus
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Brücke-Museum, Berlin
The Brücke Museum has opened itself up to contemporary artistic figures and perspectives, starting with Sol Calero’s Casa Isadora pavilion in 2018. Vivian Suter is now showing her first solo exhibition in Germany.
Her canvases hang freely in the space, overlapping on the wall or spread out on the floor. Detached from the frame, the fabric swings gently in the exhibition space. The installation invites visitors to seek out their own paths and to experience the works spatially. For Suter, it is about the overall impression more than the individual image—which the artist never marks with a title or date.
Exploration and subjective experience play a significant role for the Argentinian-Swiss painter Vivian Suter. With every exhibition, she enters into a direct dialogue with the space. No exhibition is like another. In the free play of the installation, the works are recombined with each other in ever new ways—some moving into the background while something previously hidden enters into the light. In the Brücke Museum, Suter’s works are complimented by around 40 paintings and artisanal pieces from the collection. The pieces include rarely exhibited reverse sides of paintings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, a tapestry by Erich Heckel, and a carved chess set by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.
“As a museum launched by artists, we want to continue seeking dialog with contemporary artists. I am delighted that Vivian Suter accepted my invitation and that her first museum show in Germany is taking place here at the Brücke museum. The broadness of the exhibition creates surprising juxtapositions and entirely new visual axes that augment the way our museum spaces can be seen, while also making it possible to look at the collection from a new perspective,” says museum director Lisa Marei Schmidt.
The exhibition was created in close collaboration with Suter and her mother, the artist Elisabeth Wild, who passed away in the spring of 2020. Also on show are a series of her small-format collages, composed meticulously from magazine cuttings. Wild intuitively compiled a multifaceted ensemble of Brücke works that spans the entire creative period of the artists without claiming to be exhaustive. The works are grouped into loose thematic chapters in the exhibition, such as the early works of the Brücke artists or Karl SchmidtRottluff’s late still lifes.
The exhibition juxtaposes classic and contemporary artistic figures and perspectives, making it possible for visitors to reflect upon lines of connection and upon differences. The spatially expansive installation of Suter’s works recalls the studio-cum-homes of the Brücke artists, furnished with self-designed furniture, printed fabrics, and woven textiles. Pursuing the idea of a Gesamtkunstwerk that touches upon all areas of life, they seek an intimate connection between art and life.
Parallels between the artistic self-images of Suter and key figures from the Brücke movement are also visible in their bonds with nature. In reaction to the increasing prominence of technology around the turn of the century, the Brücke artists sought life experiences closer to nature. Humanity and its harmonic relationship with its environment became a key theme of their art. In ever-changing groups, they regularly spent summers at the lake or by the sea, allowing them to create studies outside the studio. Suter too paints in the lush vegetation of her garden. Time and again, the viewer feels they have seen geometric blocks and thick swathes of paint—but also organic forms that recall exotic plants. Nature has an immediate presence in her art, becoming a creative element in her work.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1949, Suter moved to Switzerland with her parents in the 1960s, where she studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule Basel from 1967 to 1972. Since 1982, the artist has been living on a former coffee plantation on the outskirts of the small village of Panajachel in Guatemala. Her studio there is located in a large garden that is reminiscent of a tropical jungle with its freely growing palm trees, ferns, and eucalyptus and avocado trees. In 2005, a storm destroyed large parts of the region and flooded Suter’s studio. Her works were drenched in water and mud. What initially seemed to be a destructive act of nature was later accepted by Suter as part of the paintings.
She has since accepted nature as a creative element within her artistic practice, deliberately exposing her canvases to its influences. In her outdoor work, rainwater, falling leaves, and animals leave their marks on her large-scale fabric panels. Upon closer inspection, paint-encrusted branches and the pawprints of her dogs Tintin, Nina and Bonzo become visible. Detached from the tropical environment of their creation and placed in the exhibition, her paintings still attest to the nature of the forest. “A garden of paintings emerges, and visitors can wander through it,” states Vivian Suter.
In recent years Vivian Suter had numerous exhibitions, including at Camden Art Centre, London (2020); Tate Liverpool (2019—2020); The High Line, New York (2019—2020); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2019), and Mudam, Luxembourg (2019).