MULTIPLE SPACES OF REPRESENTATION
BY MICHAEL WESSING
Susanne Hegmann was born in Essen in 1957. From 1977 to 1983 she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Münster under Johannes Brus and Ludmilla von Arseniew. In 1981, she spends a few months at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. In 1982, she becomes a master student of Ludmilla von Arseniew. In 1992, Susanne Hegmann receives a diploma in liberal arts. She has been a member of the Deutscher Künstlerbund (Association of German Artists) since 2005.
Since 1985, she has been participating in group exhibitions at home and abroad; her first solo exhibitions came a few years after, in 1989. The artist has implemented various projects as a set designer and interior designer. Between 2010 and 2011, she designed walls under the title »Grimm's Project« in the hotel of the same name in Berlin, located at Alte Jacobstr. 100. Her works are part of numerous private collections.
Susanne Hegmann lives and works in Münster. Her studio at Hafenweg 22 in Münster – with views of the canal, its constantly moving, iridescent waters, and the changing light conditions – is one of her many sources of inspiration.
What initially strikes the observer about Hegmann’s recent works is the diverse materiality; her special treatment of the surface appears very haptic, as she also includes chipped or peeling materials. Most works are created as collages, in which, for example, a work on paper is combined with an acrylic painting and a sculptural object. Outside the actual image, mounted on the wall right next to it, this object corresponds with the image. The reflection of the shiny gold surface of the object, which is covered in gold leaf, magically attracts the observer. While he or she tries to identify the small design as a comprehensible object – perhaps as a mask – the gaze keeps alternating between it and the painting in search of connections.
Another example shows the use of bird’s eye maple veneer, which creates a contrast to the surrounding painting on paper or acrylic on canvas due to its frailty and tendency to crack. The wood is partly brittle and wants to separate from the seemingly smooth canvas surface. This is countered by the paper rippled by moisture, while the pencil-like inner drawing balances the forces in the image.
In other works the artist also uses a miscellany of unconventional materials, such as dried paint taken from her palette and utilized in her paintings. This results in patchy areas that act as irritating or ›disruptive‹ elements in the well-ordered pictorial language clearly defined by grid structures. The artist uses almost any materials such as wood, paper, wax paper, wallpaper, foils, photographs, and gold leaf.
In the artistic examination of this material diversity, the works of Susanne Hegmann often appear like secret symbols or ciphers. They oscillate between reality and illusion, fantasy, and emotion and therefore seem very ›personal‹. The artist has named this show, which includes works from 2009 to 2012, accordingly: »urban intimacy«. The subheading »Multiple Vorstellungsräume” (Multiple Spaces of Representation)« provides a further explanation. The spaces of representation are varied for the observer of the pictures – whether future, past, or present – even for the artist herself, when she assigns titles such as Traum 1 bis 5 (English: Dream 1 through 5), Frau mit Welle (English: Woman with Wave), or Kolibris Nektar (English: Hummingbird Nectar).
Some artworks incorporate photos of women; it is striking that all women are virtually faceless. In some of the pictures, however, the artist herself can be recognized in spite of a lack of elaboration. Is it about concealment, shame, secrets? Are the observers to develop their own ideas about the faces, possibly even find themselves in them? Or does the artist not allow the voyeurism of a self-portrait in order to not appear vulnerable?
Perhaps the answer can be found in her personal testimonials, when she writes:
» For me, ›Urban Intimacy‹ denotes a protected space, which I depict in the project cycle shown here, working with very different associations. These are supported by the color schemes, which are not clearly defined and are mainly mixed with black, grey, and white. My view as an observer revolves around birds, drawn finely and in detail, urban insights, and finally approaches multiple spaces of representation. Small whitish clay objects, almost organic beings, take up the dialog and offer themselves up to the other image spaces for exploration. I turn my back on the rushed world and recall it in fading snapshots: The woman’s head, tilted forward, the unreal rhododendrons, the quiet contact of the birds, an empty deck chair mixed with green. Associative image sequences on wood or canvas are contrasted with larger image objects, which under the title ›Grimm's Project‹ refer to the works at the Berlin hotel. They are complemented by several wallpaper works, as material paintings that take up the narrative character without losing their autonomy.«