The Fractured Landscapes of Suchitra Mattai :: ‘Chlorosis’ x ‘Ambiguity in the Face of the Cause’

‘Chlorosis’ cover artist Suchitra Mattai’s show, ‘sugar bound’, is at the Center for Visual Art in Denver through November 3.

Elæ Moss
Elæ Moss
Sep 20, 2018 · 4 min read
‘Chlorosis’ cover, featuring “Ambiguity in the face of the cause,” from Suchitra Mattai’s ‘Sublime Geometry’ series

Suchitra Mattai: sugar bound
August 30 — November 3
Metropolitan State University of Denver, Center for Visual Art

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Nothing better represents the mission of the Operating System than a collaborative text of para-academically nodding eco-poetics than, maybe, this same volume if it became a three-way collaboration with a visual artist: enter Chlorosis, Michael Flatt and Derrick Mund’s experimental joint project, released in September from the OS — with cover art from Suchitra Mattai, a Guyanese-born multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in Denver, where her work is currently on view at the Center for Visual Art.

Elizabeth Robinson writes that the text “reanimates and throws color and light on a dimming horizon,” wondering if perhaps it could be the poetry that, if it doesn’t save us, provides sustenance towards survival: describing the work as, “both slapstick and delicate,” she posits that “Chlorosis sustains the witness necessary to this moment.” Christopher Nealon, speaking to this same latent possibility, called the work “a moving experiment in the uses of the poetic ‘we’ in a time of crisis.”

With “Ambiguity in the face of the cause,” from Mattai’s ‘Sublime Geometry’ series as its cover, Chlorosis-the-book evolves beyond Chlorosis-the-text, levelling up across disciplines; now too Flatt and Mund’s questions become embued with the qualities and tones of similar queries the artist is posing to the landscape and its presentation via new, tactile media — adding sensory dimension to the reader’s experience. We enter not only into the “book” but into investigation of our space and perception, through the palimpsestic rendering of nature in Eurocentric pastoral needlepoint interpolated by Mattai’s arresting, geometric fiber layer. Through her material choices, slyly referencing pixellated image making, the artist confronts the reader, here, with the question of the evolving [N]ature of the colonial: the eye of the gentry in its depiction, control, and subsequent destruction of the landscape, the inescapable backstory to Flatt and Mund’s attempts at sustenance, sanity, and connection in the anthopocene. — Lynne DeSilva-Johnson, September 2018

Mattai writes:

“In my practice, land is a conceptual space for the exploration of identity. The places I create are born from memory, history and imagination. Land can offer sanctuary or peril, sometimes both simultaneously. Through installations, mixed media drawings and paintings, collages, and video, I explore how our natural environment(s) shapes personal narratives, ancestral histories and constructions of ‘self.’

I want my work to be both intimate and vast. Landscape allows me a wide visual lens within which to situate intimate cultural artifacts and discuss the inextricably intertwined relationship of history and identity.

Combining fragments of landscape, vintage objects (often domestic), and culturally specific patterns, I create a nonlinear dialogue with the past. My current projects investigate the role of land in migrations, assimilations, and the creation of ‘home.’”

SUCHITRA MATTAI is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Suchitra was born in Guyana, South America, but has also lived in Halifax and Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Philadelphia, New York City, Minneapolis, and Udaipur, India. These diverse natural and cultural environments have greatly influenced her work and research. While her practice includes a wide range of materials and ideas, her primary interests include 1) the complex relationship between the natural and artificial worlds and 2) the questioning of historical and authoritative narratives, especially those surrounding colonialism. Through painting, fiber, drawing, collage, installation, video, and sculpture, she weaves narratives of “the other,” invoking fractured landscapes and reclaiming cultural artifacts (often colonial and domestic in nature).

Suchitra received an MFA in Painting and Drawing and an MA in South Asian art, both from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She has exhibited her work in Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, Denver, Austin, Berlin, London, and Wales and her work has appeared in various publications such as The Daily Serving (Mailee Hung), New American Paintings, and will be in a forthcoming book, “A Collection of Contemporary Women’s Voices on Guyana,” (Grace Anezia Ali, Brill Press). Her next projects include collaborations with the Denver Art Museum/SkyHouse, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and a travelling exhibition with the Museum of the Americas, Washington, DC. She recently completed a residency at RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Denver, and is represented by K Contemporary Gallery Denver, and GrayDuck Gallery, Austin.

Learn more about the artist at : http://www.suchitramattai.com

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The Operating System & Liminal Lab

The Operating System is a peer-facilitated experiment in the redistribution of creative resources and possibility. We are committed to gathering resources for citizen action, to transparency, to a unique publishing model, and to continuous evolution. We are based in Brooklyn, NY.

Elæ Moss

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is a multimodal creative and social practitioner, curator, scholar, and educator. Founder/Director @The Operating System. Faculty @ Pratt. [they/them] #resist

The Operating System & Liminal Lab

The Operating System is a peer-facilitated experiment in the redistribution of creative resources and possibility. We are committed to gathering resources for citizen action, to transparency, to a unique publishing model, and to continuous evolution. We are based in Brooklyn, NY.