archive carton, japan paper, oil color, ink, graphite, model figures and pastel chalk. 13 pices in the sice of 90 x 90 cm, with wood frame 110 x 110 cm.
Archaic and at the same time at the height of time, mystically removed, but still direct, figurative and nevertheless abstract. It is not possible to describe the works of Katrin Süss – whose work we want to honor with this exhibition – in just a few words. The spectrum in which the artist unfolds her work is too diverse.
Against this background, it is all the more gratifying to be able to present here at the Volkshochschule Dresden a comprehensive show of works from various periods and even ongoing processes, so that the pluralism of installations, multimedia art, photography, graphics and sculpture becomes clear.
Already when recapitulating the vita it becomes apparent how manifold the work of Katrin Süss is, indeed simply could become: The artist completed studies in painting, graphics and communication design, which led her from her native Dresden to Berlin and Hamburg. From 1996 to 1998, she followed a correspondence course in art therapy with the South African performance artist Frances Dupierry.
Initially, Katrin Süss devoted herself to poster art, for the results of which she received several international awards. From 2000, she held various lectureships in design, media, communication, but also typography, at the stations Dresden, Berlin and Salzburg. Later lectureships were also internationally oriented: in 2011 she taught in various workshops on symbolism, where no less than 17 different nations were represented.
What really stands out again and again in Katrin Süss' curriculum vitae are the international stations, the curiosity for new things, the research for fragments, legacies, traces. A fellowship at the Salomon Arts Gallery in New York in 2009 was followed in the same year by an EU fellowship to the island of Lanzarote, where she immersed herself in the work of César Manrique. In 2019, the artist was drawn once again to New York, where she presented the exhibition "Peace be with you" at the Salomon Arts Gallery. Peace and the optimistic hope for the future, which also knows how to overcome dark phases of life, are motifs that profoundly shape the art of Katrin Süss again and again.
From 2011, driven by the history of their hometown Dresden, a new series of works was created: The "Dresden Rose" or "White Rose". This series will be presented together for the first time in this exhibition. Conceptually, the subject was not conceived as a closed group of images, but rather the working group "February 13", which annually commemorates the destruction of Dresden in World War II, presented politicians and public figures with the etching of the rose with a commemorative and hortatory character. Since then, Katrin Süss has created etchings of various forms every year, in which she generally remains faithful to the silhouette of the rose, but in each case arrives at different pictorial solutions for the inner concretization; this is certainly against the background of the current events of the day. The latest project, "Frühling 2022" (Spring 2022), which perpetuates the headlines of three international newspapers on marble, is similarly political, with a strong documentary claim, a "stone archive of world events," as Katrin Süss calls it.
Marble, paper, bronze, cardboard, even records - the materials used are as diverse as the genres of work. Over the years and decades, Katrin Süss has repeatedly opened up new possibilities for development: from 1999, she created sculptural works; since 2007/08, she has used records and CDs as carriers of visual artistic expression; in 2015, she added bronze casting, supported by multimedia documentation of the creative process; in 2020, finally, she focused on discs made of natural stone. Often techniques are combined with each other, genre boundaries are even deliberately crossed.
In this exhibition, for example, angels made of paper are shown that were part of a photographic project realized in New York, in which Dresden fragments were also relocated there and repositioned in the urban context. In this way, situations arose that left the viewer with the possibility of personal interpretation: Katrin Süss was asked in the context of the works whether the angels were not a memorial symbol for the drastic events of 9-11.
The artist has mastered the play with the symbolon, integrating elements of the installative, typography. Here one senses especially the character of the work, at the interface between archiving, perpetuating and the interpretative, playful, charged. Often the letter-like elements catch the eye - in the preliminary discussion to this exhibition opening Katrin Süss told me that she has tapped the Glagoliza, the oldest Slavic script form, as an artistic inspiration for herself. The letters, developed by the monk Cyril in the 9th century, can no longer be located in any system of signs: they are not Greek letters, just as little understandable Cyrillic, Latin certainly not. They seem at the same time strange and yet familiar. This temporal, if not supra-temporal component comes to bear again and again in the artist's oeuvre.
In the context of this exhibition, three so-called typo-figures can be seen, cast bronze sculptures covered with (in this case Latin) letters, which with their elongated, elegant bodies and conspicuous headdresses are reminiscent of Greek goddesses. Figurative elements can thus be found again and again in the oeuvre of Katrin Süss, but her most characteristic means of expression is a different one.
An initially realistic phase was followed by a break with it in the early 1990s: Already since 1994, the circle has played the dominant role, whether as a large, wall-filling sculpture made of rough cardboard, pasted over with fine Japanese paper and colorfully painted, or as an etching such as the "Dresden Rose," a stone ring disc, or a cast bronze.
The circle as a form is as timeless as it is interesting, with an almost unique possibility to charge the respective work symbolically. In many of the groups of works shown here, including the calendars, the circle occupies an extraordinary position: a motif with high recognition value, natural and yet artificial, infinite, since without beginning and without end, self-contained and absolute, delimited and yet universal. And so I would like to invite you to get to know the work and the artist, to which a touch of universality adheres. — Dr. Kristina Friedrichs