We may begin with the technical details and describe the pictures of Suzanne Lastrina as collages in mixed media kept in a uniform subdued color scale with delicate blue, red, and yellow nuances on a black-grey background.
All this is true, but it doesn’t describe the spontaneous feeling that we experience when we look at these pictures: that we are seeing a complete, small micro-society in front of our eyes. A micro-society where living beings are moving about and acting in environments with plants and trees, houses and cars, and with moons and rainbows, hanging in the sky, as spectators of everything.
The inspiration for these shapes and compositions springs from the same source as the one used by the Cobra artists and Jean Dubuffet: the drawings and paintings of children. Large, round, or amorphous shapes, completely liberated from the naturalism that the children are later told is the “correct” way to create art. In the case of Suzanne Lastrina supplemented by an important aspect, which is her very own trademark: impressions of rocks, fungi, leaves, crystals, and scores of other objects that add a structure to the pictures and make them resemble materials from nature itself.
Within this magic, yet recognizable, universe of pictures, the beings are looking at the world. They are gazing at the large, round, full moon, waiting for the expected rain, or starting the car and driving on a mystery tour. A large number of the pictures addresses more abstract things related to human emotions and experiences. Thus, a journey may be not solely a physical journey, but also the journey through life filled with all the joys and sorrows, misunderstandings, setbacks, cries for help, infatuations, and existential choices that we all encounter during our lives. For that reason, the pictures may contain many different kinds of keynotes corresponding to our complicated emotional lives. There are melancholy pictures, happy pictures, ecstatic pictures, hesitant pictures, and humorous pictures. But precisely because the pictures work with feelings and basic moods, it is impossible to treat them according to a formula, and, undoubtedly, we all experience the pictorial universe of Suzanne Lastrina in each our separate way.
What cannot be doubted, however, is that the pictures are characterized by a poetry and knowledge of human nature, which make a great impression. Suzanne Lastrina does not judge – neither herself nor her fellow human beings – but she tries in an empathic manner to show the complicated feelings that our lives consist of. Most of us are trying, to the best of our ability, to be the best persons we can be, but we also realize that, at times, it may be a difficult job. The sympathy and acceptance we perceive in these pictures may, in connection with the poetic and humorous mood, make us smile a bit at ourselves. And once we have started smiling, everything really cannot be so bad, after all. And Suzanne Lastrina’s pictures truly make us smile.
By Tom Jørgensen, art reviewer at Jyllands Posten, editor of Kunstavisen