Suter rarely leaves her hideaway in the Guatemalan Rainforest. The Swiss-Argentine artist was born in Buenos Aires in 1949 and, after moving to Switzerland with her parents, spent her teenage years and the start of her career in Basel. She was beginning to make her mark as an abstract painter when she decided to travel through Central America in the early 1980s. She ended up settling in the small lakeside town of Panajachel in rural Guatemala.
Suter has two studios – on a hillside, high above the treetops, and in her garden – but she prefers to paint outside, accompanied only by her dogs. She’s inspired by the tropical plants, birds and wildly unpredictable weather conditions of her adopted home. Free from distractions, she works quickly and freely – sweeping, splattering and smudging paint onto unstretched and unprimed canvases.
In 2005 swathes of Panajachel were devastated by a tropical storm, which flooded her garden studio – a white barn in which she stores her work. Instead of tossing away the battered sheets of canvas and starting from scratch, Suter made a choice: from then on, she would embrace her environment, however volatile. Today, when she finishes a painting, she either buries it or leaves it outside to weather – welcoming water marks, dried leaves, specks of mud.