Nombre: Cecilia Nakao Grado: Derecho y Relaciones Internacionales (IE School of Global Affairs)
Climate Crisis and Art

Recently, I had the opportunity to see Vivian Suter’s artwork in the Reina Sofia Museum’s exhibition at the Palacio de Velázquez hall in the Parque del Retiro. I was instantly drawn to her work, especially given the contrast between her large colorful mixed-media canvases and the rare gray, gloomy day in Madrid. As I read about the pieces and the artist herself, I was amazed by the connection between art and the environment which her work showcased. A pioneer eco-artist, her paintings seek to bring to the forefront and vitalize ecology. 

Through the use of lively colors, abstract strokes and collage, Suter’s work is an invitation to feel and reflect on nature. This becomes even more evident when learning that the artist’s works are composed amidst a forest, where she is surrounded by mountains, and often, rainfall, in a remote area, near Lake Atlitán in Guatemala. There, she exercises an easygoing, unfettered approach to creating art, letting natural resources and her dog take part in work as well. Though it is hard to discuss and analyze abstract art, Suter’s love of being outside and her care for the environment comes through as one silently reflects upon her multiple and overlapping canvases from the floor to the ceiling of the Palacio, making the observer feel small amidst the impression her work leaves. The lack of a stretcher or frame evokes a feeling of freedom and the different textures, a tactile appreciation. The ones held in different directions held in wood structures right next to each other resemble a forest and as you pass by them, they each seem to tell a story about a feeling, a moment, and her life in the wild. 

She delicately, subtly calls attention to the ecological crisis by asking us to open our eyes and really grasp our surroundings. The simplicity of her work and the manner in which she employs materials and imagery recognizable to anyone, like dried leaves and mud, touched something in me. Her work is a reminder that when discussing the planet and the earth, this universal and macro idea, in reality we are talking about the ground we step on everyday, our habitat, our home. It is also a plea to see the value and have appreciation for what surrounds us.

Overlooked for decades, her work has recently gained traction for the artist’s enticing awareness of the current climate crisis. As an instigating eco-artist, Vivian Suter and her work depict a powerful and beautiful engagement between art and the environment, making the crisis more tangible and real not through logos or ethos, but pathos, appealing to emotion and a sense of belonging in this home called earth.