Susanne Kompast’s works feel like an empowering and loving impulse, that is necessary sometimes, to stand up for the things that are important to us. The Vienna-based artist is all about issues surrounding womanhood, especially the image of women in the art world. Her practice deals with political issues in a lively and playful way in order to integrate them as a sign into everyday life.
At the age of 15, Susanne already knew that she wanted to become an artist. She took her first steps into the creative world by taking daily portraits of the people around her. “I always had a passion for art“, she recalls. Having grown up in Vienna, it was easy for her to find access to cultural spaces: “I practically grew up with art history. It has always attracted me.”
Her time in Edinburgh college of art lead her into sculpturing. She is fascinated by three-dimensinal pieces and begins to work merely with stone and clay. Susanne has a love for the characteristics of different materials as well as playing around with different application techniques.
Women in Susannes life
The topics she chooses to portray are closely intertwined with her motivation. As soon as the artist is creating something, she is creating it as a woman. “I can’t negate this fact, it deeply shapes my work“, Susanne underlines. Therefore her works touch on topics such as the female cycle. Susanne formally implemented this issue in creating little clay figures. The hollow clay bodies each carry a small ball inside them, which when shaken create the illusion of a fertility rattle.
Susanne also advocates for the rights of women artists in her free time. The feminist artists‘ association IntAKT, initally founded 1977 in vienna, aims to support women-artists in providing them with both an artistic platform and an opportunity for social networking. The association offers women artists alternatives to the commercial and institutionalised exhibition business.
As for herself, Susanne is inspired by people mostly from political contexts, like Bertha von Suttner and Johanna Dohnal. “I dont really take artists as role models since I want to do my own art“, she justifies.
More recently Susanne is inspired by political context and peace symbols. This was not always the case. She recalls “in school, history never really interested me since it was just dates with the start of war and peace treaties.“ We live in such a chronological time perspective which often does not do the respective events justice at all, Susanne finds. The artist carries the desire within her to break through the perspective of this structure, in order to create more meaningful memorials.
Formally, she often discusses the subject with the image of an hourglass. An abstract hourglass made with clay for example as well as other objects adressing conserved time. She connects the object to questions like: may one forget? If you turn it around, could you see it as an allegory for “the reappraisal goes on?“
pictures provided by PILOTENKUECHE
Susanne reflects how she also carries ambivalent feelings in her, in regards to how this can seem missionary. Artists often see themselves as a sort of channel, she says, but “who am I to choose myself as an ambassador?“ Maybe the answer is simply: if you have the urge to express yourself, do it. In Susanne I sense a deep desire to create spatial art that raises awareness of certain issues.
Embracing the process
“For me, the path to the realization of a piece can take a while. It all takes time – but I also allow it.“
“It’s about letting go. And gradually it will bear fruit.” The ideas are floating around in her head and will resurface at the right time. Susanne speaks of her current project, where she used a special kind of geometric shape. She intitially had this idea 30 years ago, and decided now is the right time to realise it. Susanne reflects an enormous capacity for patience based on trust that everything will work out.
written by Marlene Neumaier
Keep up with the latest from Susanne through her website or catch up with her at our upcoming show.
Vernissage 18 March 7-10 PM
Open Sun 19 – Wed 22 Mar 4-8 PM