Susanna Storch
Susanna Storch

The artist Susanna Storch was born in Mainz, Germany. From 1980 – 81, she studied Graphic Design in Munich, and then changed to Art studies at the Johannes-Gutenberg-University in her hometown, Mainz. Since she began her studies, her main focus has been on figurative realism, in painting as well as, at that times, in sculpture. Between 1986 and 1994, she and some partners ran a studio of architectural ceramics, since 1995 another workshop of custom-built furniture. In those years, she also had her three children, who are now grown. At the end oft he 90’s, she resumed painting again and started her career as a freelance artist with a studio in Mainz. Since 2001, she has participated in a large number of solo and group exhibitions in Germany and other european countries. Her work has been presented in various artfairs, such as ART FRANKFURT, ARTFAIR Cologne, ART KARLSRUHE and BERLINER LISTE. Some of the political works are in property of the ‚Museum am Dom’, Würzburg, Germany.

In her figurative work, the human being is always the main subject, presented in different thematical series: Portrait/Menschenbilder,  Nude, Ballet, Landscape and works with a political backround, (‚Against War’). The current series ‚Fassaden/Facades’ focuses on randomly found commonplace situations and private scenes in an urban context.

 

Susanna Storch. CV

Education:

1980 - 81 Graphical design, University for applied arts, München, Germany

1981 - 86 Fine arts, Academy of arts, Mainz, Germany

1986 - 97 Ceramic design & custom built furniture

Since ’98 working solely as a freelance painter at her studio in Mainz, Germany

 

Selected exhibitions:

2001 Gallery Valentien, Stuttgart, Germany

2003 Solo exhibition, Villa Haar im Goethepark, Veimar, Germany

2003 Solo exhibition, Tuchfabrik, Trier, Germany

2004 Solo exhibition, Gallery Mühlfeld & Stohrer, Frankfurt, Germany

2004 Portraits, Bonn, Bad-Godesberg, Germany

2005 Solo exhibition, Gallery Mühlfeld & Stohrer, Frankfurt, Germany

2007 Flutlicht, Essenheimer Kunstverein, Altes Rathaus Ingelheim, Essenheim, Germany

2007 Solo exhibition, Gallery Mühlfeld & Stohrer, Frankfurt, Germany

2008 Human disaster, Solo exhibition, Gallery Förster, Berlin, Germany

2008 Menschenbilder, Solo exhibition, Municipal gallery, Schlangenbad, Germany

2008 Susanna Storch, Solo exhibition, Kunstverein Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany

2008 Choreographie & Typographie, Davisklemmgallery, Frankfurt, Germany

2009 Wagnis Wirklichkeit, Gallery Epikur, Wuppertal, Germany

2009 Moments, Solo exhibition, State theatre, Mainz, Germany

2010 Menschenbilder, Solo exhibition, Gallery Förster, Berlin, Germany

2010 Galeria Le5Venice, Solo exhibition, La Fenice, Venice, Italy

2010 Gallery Needien, Neede, Netherlands 

2011 New works, BestregARTs, Frankfurt, Germany

2012 Summer show, BestregARTs, Frankfurt, Germany

2012 Frauenbilder, Solo exhibition, Thalhaus Gallery, Wiesbaden, Germany

2013 Frauen – Liebe und Leben, Lehmbruckmuseum, Duisburg, Germany

2013 Herbstshow 2013, BestregARTs, Frankfurt, Germany

2013 Im Fluss, Kunstverein Mittelrhein, Landtag Mainz, Mainz, Germany

2014 Köpfe 3, Werkkunstgallery, Berlin, Germany

2015 Moments, Greskewitz Kleinitz Gallery, Hamburg, Germany

2015 Weibsbilder, Gallery Klose, Essen, Germany

2015 Fassaden, BestregARTs, Frankfurt, Germany

2015 Sightzeichen 15, Gallery Klose, Essen, Germany

2015 Faces behind art, Gallery Klose, Essen, Germany

2016 Arte Laguna Prize exhibition, Arsenale, Venice, Italy

2016 Afrika, Gallery Klose, Essen, Germany

 

Artfairs:

2004 - 2007 Artfair Köln

2005 Art Frankfurt

2006 Kunstköln

2006 Cologne Fine Art

2007, 2009 Art Karlsruhe

2014 - 2015 Berliner Liste

 

Works in public and museum collections:

Museum am Dom, Wurzburg, Germany

Museumburgmiltenberg, Miltenberg, Germany

Ministry for science, research and culture, Mainz, Germany

 

Photo credits:

artist's portrait: Sebastian Stenzel, Wiesbaden

photos of works: Thomas Brenner, Mainz

In her new group of works titled ‚Fassaden‘ Susanna Storch has revived a painting technique that Albrecht Dürer and Matthias Grünewald used during the middle ages for their panel paintings, and that was revitalised in 20th century by artists like Picasso and Gerhard Richter, to create such works as ‚Guernica‘ and ‚18th October, 1977‘. Adding to this monochrome palette of grey tones, stone colours and fine light and dark shades of brown, the artist Susanna Storch has made use of other colours that seem to come close to grey in their tonality, except in the painting ‚Fassade I‘, where there is a red curtain creating the strongest contrast to the windows theme. The organisation and arrangement of surfaces in the composition of this work-group’s basic structure is intriguing. Geometry holds sway in these paintings, lending the seeming even tenor and bleakness of the chosen subject matter a unique character. Only a fragment of the facade is visible in each picture, focusing immediately on the painted subject matter. Seen from a distance, people are visible behind a window or there is someone leaning out, or sitting on the railing. The windows offer almost no view of the room behind. This unusual tension between visible and invisible seems to be reflected in a pair of German words that have been homophone since the middle ages, ‘Fenster’ and ‘finster’, ‘window’ and ‘dark’. A window is the only thing that offers our eyes the possibility of seeing through opaque walls. But how powerfully the dark shines out of them, as shown particularly clearly in the painting ‚Fassade III‘. The reflections on the window panes trick the human eye with architectural surfaces that have become softened by distortions and refractions, that are fluid like the colour marking out the structure of the facades. Incidentally, the curtain drapery offers a contra-point to the structural front view. This theme, developed by Susanna Storch, is fundamental and expressive. Where there are visible signs of human lives, reflections and props such as figures, curtains and furniture create movement. Where there are walls, the painter layers the paint or allows it to flow, making time visible and counterbalancing the snapshot in time, the seeming randomness. The different environments showing people living in the anonymity of city buildings, are carefully ordered by Susanna Storch in the geometry of her composition. Through the structuring of wall and window surfaces, what appears to be chance in the subject matter takes on an existential coherence that becomes an allegory in itself. The curtain movement, captured in ‚Fassade II‘ seems to cross the border between dream and real world, between images and reality. The words for dream and window sound almost the same in Hebrew : םֹולֲח  chalOm ןֹוּלַח chalOn . Was the artist recognised as an observer or onlooker, or did something just happen to take place at the same moment as the observation? It is the unlimited capabilities of the painter that makes what was experienced visible here, stimulating the imagination with movement. The portrayed people wordlessly communicate their current lives through their gestures and the direction of their gaze. In the turkish language Can means life and cam means glass. Susanna Storch’s pictorial idea, the glass mirroring, reflects life into our present. In this work-group in particular, the artist seems to reflect upon the various possibilities of artistically appropriating reality in painting and photography. Susanna Storch counteracts the austere, illusionless clarity of the theme with the represented people and with the painted materials, like the very confusing mirroring as signs of life, seen clearly for example in ‚Fassade VIII‘. These mirror surfaces offer an equal amount of discovering and covering. The window makes a view of a naked upper body possible, but at the same time the mirroring seems to protect it from being seen. The painter is confronting the reality of her own concrete field of experience. In this series of pictures she makes an organic connection between life and art. She gets as close as she can to the people, achieving a transcendental objectivity that confirms a deep love of humanity. In the painting ‚Fassade VII‘ she includes the word fragments ‚el‘ and ‚Con‘, from the original words ‚Hotel Continental‘.They stimulate intellectual word games and associations that are also encouraged by colour and the theme. The ability to recognise and describe the world needs a sharp mind and a clear understanding, to transform it into art needs strict, mental application. This attitude to the phenomenon of life creates a new perception, that describes all objects in the composition with the same depth and sharpness. This corresponds with the artistic exploration of Susanna Storch. Despite the austerity and severity, her personalartistic signature is recognisable in the paintings, and her emotions can be read. Susanna Storch paints what is accessible, the world of the city. The unambiguous clarity and simplicity of the paintings brings the artist close to the inner values of people and their things. In these works reality appears to be the acknowledgement of an image viewed internally. Staying with reality and wonder are not contradictions there. On this intellectual basis, Susanna Storch’s reserved colour palette shines out; it comes close, into the eye, goes further, deep inside.

Frank Schablewski, Theorie der Ästhetik, Düsseldorf, 2016

From face to face

Imaginary about people. The effigy as one of possible positions in realism

Susanna Storch paints portraits of people – not solely, but in the majority of cases. The portraits are presenting oftentimes only the face, sometimes half of the body, rarely they show the whole person. Traditionally, portraits in Art are a genre more disdained in Art History, because they are tending much more to resemblance and to a lesser extent to aesthetics. In the times of Renaissance and Enlightenment, the genre portrait encreased value due to the insight of the man as the most of possible noble items in pictures; since than, the face has been perceived as sort of membrane which could reflect veracity and soul, the innerly essence and entity of a human being. Basically fixed on this historical developed context, the images of Susanna Storch are generated as freely choosen themes by the artist herself or as contract works. At this, the artist deals deeply and intensive with her models, takes several series of fotos to get an impression of their capability of expression as well as the habit of expression of each personality. This proceeding rests upon the idea that perception of personality is only possible by building up an interactive and intense relation between painter and sujet/model. The fotos are a basis for the pictures, although they never conduce to a real quaint implement such like projection to trace, their function is merely a sort of mind memory for the artist, so she can fix for herself a special statical moment in expression of a model without having endless live painting sessions according to the item. The portraits are developed in a classical, intricated painting style with acrylic on primed canvas backgrounds, they neither target the aestethic canon of Fotorealism nor are they hyperrealistic and like this far from keen Existentialism of a naturalistic foto. “How is it possible for the artist to make visible something invisible, like it is the inner constitution of a human being?” Max Ackermann answered to his own question in 1961 when he argued with the “dynamic descant of colour and form as a centre of artist´s knowledge”, which should empower the artist to create “a metaphysical urge and need of people in a pictorial manner”. Indeed, this answer tends only circumscribing towards the technique of paintings. Concerning Susanna Storch here should be added, that her portraits strictly negate the encircling space of the portrayed person, they are shown in a space- and timeless abeyance, concentrated as closeup views. “In a closeup view, the outcome occurs solely by the static face expression of the model or the absence of this expression; like this, the viewer is invited to decrypt the faces expression without surrounding hints and indicators, which are normally used for our opinion making of other people.” What we can see in those portraits of ballett-dancers, friends, relatives or clients of the artist, is an impression, a picture of those persons, seen by the eyes and the empathetic skills of Susanna Storch in a very special moment – we may see them with and through the artist´s borrowed eyes. This includes the rendering of transported vibes as well as of transformed realities, and not only those of the Portrayed but in addition too, those of the artist while painting the picture. Her dissecting view on individuality, on emotions and personality of the Portrayed affiliates on canvas somewhat symbiotic with the artistic demandingly idea “behind the image”. Whereupon the question of what, or better, who inspired whom likewise is senseless and non-relevant like the question of what was first, the hen or the egg. The portraits of Susanna Storch are straight, they don´t let us go, they fascinate the viewer with their possible direct reading. The Protagonists are strikingly played to gallery, the deliberated monumentalisation of the theme and it´s setting out of centre are a subtle invitation towards the viewer to approach and to “read” as it were from “face to face” or “man to man”. Among the pictures, there are strayed landscapes in form of beachviews. In these pictures portrayals of people are settled without the character of portraits but as anonymised ciphers for humanity and interconnection. Nevertheless, here too emotional situations can be idenitfied through the interactions of the people and of course through nature, especially the rolling fancy waves of the sea, which represent the part of expression to be read with empathy. Beneath this pictorial essence it´s noteworthy, that Susanna Storch in largest parts of her images is focussed on introverted, pensive or reflecting miens of her models, a characteristic trait that on one side says much about the character of the artist herself, as well as it shows the ability and disposition of problematisation and discussion in relation to individual and social aspects. Consistently, the artist paints too images against War, which come discreet but through this even more insistent comitting to grievances. With those political statements too, Susanna Storch ties her artworks in a direct way as one of several different implemented positions of Realism in Art.

Mainz 2012, Dr. phil. Nicole Beyer

* Max Ackermann,in: Das verlorene Menschenbild. Zur Problematik des Porträts in der Kunst der Gegenwart. Artemis Verlag Zürich, 1961. Martin Schoeller, Photographer. The last terms have been the evident titles of two exhibitions on the Art of Portrait at Leipzig 2011 (Beckmann) and Halberstadt 2010 (Renaissance).

“Moments” Susanna Storch

 

The main subject of Susanna Storch’s Art is Man. She has been studying the human being through art for nearly 20 years at her studio in Mainz, Germany. This theme of humanity has been consistently developing in a number of her painting series throughout the years.  Man as he is, in the series of portraits, human body and its movements in the “Akt” (Act) and “Menschenbilder” (Anthropogenetic) series, and man and war in the striking “Gegen Krieg” (Against War) series. While the artist depicts a posed model, a portrait of a friend, a

relaxed nude, a ballerina, or Iraqis and Afghanis captured by horror of war, Man remains a core theme in all of her paintings. Monumentality, close ups, lack of details and hollow backgrounds all help sharpen the viewer’s attention. Such precise exploration of the uniqueness of features, body parts, and the mechanics of poses are similar to an anthropologists interests (see works "Kongolesin", 2012, "Benghazi", 2011, and several works of  "Cubana").

The exhibition “Moments” combines canvases from the “Fassaden”  (Facades) and the

“Landschaft” (Landscapes) series where Storch expands her study further and explores man in certain environments.

In her “Fassaden” series that she started in Paris in 2013, Storch explores the contradiction between man and the world, an idea dating back to the Romantic era of the 18th century, however her work brings a fresh and up-to-date perspective to this theme.

 

In contrast to the “Portrait” series where the artist captures models, friends, and relatives, the “Fassaden” series observes nameless individuals through the windows of buildings from the outside. Real people with real lives maintain their absolute anonymity. A viewer can imagine themself or another person in such a trivial scene in any impersonal apartment building on the planet.

 

No detail in the paintings disclose any information about the location or origin of the subject and their abode, making it more intriguing to discover their true background: Fassaden IV, IX and X are from Mainz, where Susanna lives and works, V and VIII are from London, VI – Lisbon, VII– Frankfurt; one can (or rather can’t) recognize Fassaden III as the real building at the center of Santiago, Chile.

Like many contemporary artists, Susanna Storch uses photography as part of her creative method. She took photos of her models for the “Portrait” series and a number of paintings from the "Gegen Krieg" series are based on the works by Ursula Meissner, war photojournalist from Mainz. The first shots for the “Fassaden” series were taken from a hotel near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. As Susanna states, her artistic interest has nothing to do with voyeurism; she observes, rather, as an anthropologist, not in a scientific sense, but with affection. The protagonist is caught off guard on the edge of two worlds, external and internal, on the border between private and public space. Skillfully depicted surfaces play role of visual metaphors. On one side are rough and solid walls of an apartment house, on the other side  – half open transparent windows to the private world of a person.

Transparent glass surfaces naturally and metaphorically appear to provide privacy, however the viewer can catch a glimpse of faint outlines behind it. Curtains also mark a boundary between external and internal. Only the inhabitant can operate as a mediator between these worlds. Reflections and flecks of sunlight on windows are like behavioral patterns and typical reactions driven by outer reasons that hide inner intentions.

 

The four angles of the window is repeated in the four angles of the canvas and creates another barrier in the way of a observers intended view. Layer by layer hidden senses of art may be decoded as if someone is gradually opening a nesting doll.

 

Works from the “Landschaft” series offer alternative ways of world perception that lack the dualistic opposition of the “Fassaden” series.

In staying with her aforementioned methods, Susanna spent time on various occasions taking photos on the west coast of Portugal for the “Landschaft” paintings.

Instead of walls of buildings, the sea and sky appear as thoroughly depicted background for a human.

 

Figures are tiny, their features nearly vanish. However they are not dominated by their surroundings, there is no need of borders or oppositions because these settings appear to be friendly and peaceful. The rhythm of the waves, the noise of the water – these everlasting sounds of nature (unlike industrial noise of cities) harmonize  man and surrounding world. The characters of this series, drawn from urban context, exist in the natural environment. They do not have to hide in their shelters in concrete “ant hills”. Man and the outer world are joined in neither the idyllic nor the absolute, but existential unity.