Vivian Suter

Trailer of the portrait of artist Vivian Suter, laureate of the Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim 2021. Direction: Marie-Eve Hildbrand Editing: Matthias Staub Music: Pierre-Yves Lejeune

Vivian Suter (1949, Buenos Aires) comes from a family of artists. Until she was 13, the family lived in Argen-tina. Thereafter, in Switzerland, she graduated from the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel and had her first exhibition in 1972, at the Galerie Stampa in Basel. In 1981, the same year in which she received a Federal Art Scolarship, she was invited to put on an exhibition by Jean-Christophe Ammann, director of the Kunsthalle Basel at the time. When Vivian Suter left Switzerland in 1983 following those initial successes, the art world was unable to comprehend why she had chosen to live her life in isolation, and more or less forgot about her. In 2014, at the invitation of curator Adam Szymczyk, she returned to the picture surface and the Kunsthalle Basel: in the solo exhibition ‘Vivian Suter intrépida featuring Elisabeth Wild Fantasías 2’, she presented works from the preceding thirty years, along with selected collages by Elisabeth Wild. It was also Adam Szymczyk who, 45 years after her first trip to Documenta, presented her at the 14th edition in Kassel and in Athens. Until then, Vivian Suter had been working and refining her artistic practice far away from the art world on a former coffee plantation in Guatemala.
Freed from all those influences, she had developed her own distinctive language in which the moments of its creation are inscribed. The characteristic features of this specific production context can also be appreciated in her exhibitions, where the paintings mounted or suspended in space come together as pieces of a giant textile sculpture. Moving into it is an immersive experience that makes you feel as if you are travelling far away and experiencing the density of the rainforest.

Vivian Suter’s exceptional work is being honoured by two solo exhibitions this year: in June at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid and in November with ‘Vivian Suter Retrospective’ at the Kunstmuseum Luzern.