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Susanne Moudoukouta - "wondrous interwinings"

A Portrait

„In the past, my art was perhaps more influenced by Byzantine Art and realistic landscape painting and drawing.“ Now she feels more free and her art is more characterized by her own worlds and ideas.

Susanne Mourdoukouta was born in Germany in 1956. In the early 1980s, she left Germany and travelled through Southeast Asia and Australia. For the last 30 years she lives permanently on the Southern Peloponnese in Greece. Right now, she is exhibiting her artworks in the Gallery „Salon Halit Art“ in Berlin, Kreuzberg.

Her art ranges from fantastic realism to byzantine-style icon painting. Some pictures come from the field of visionary art, others have a poetic-realistic side. There are icons, mythical creatures, symbolisms from mythology and always her personal-individual environment, connected to nature, which she expresses in her pictures.

Her youth and the hippie movement

Susanne Mourdoukouta has been drawing since childhood. In adolescence, in the time of the hippie movement, she began to be interested in surreal art. Music, then and now, had a special influence on her pictures.

"In the 70s, we often listened to psychedelic music. Many of these groups have surreal and imaginative covers.“ Especially the album "Abraxas" by Santana, for which a painting by Mati Klarwein was used, particularly caught her eye. This inspired her to her later development, and is one of the reasons why she wanted to be an artist.

At first, Susanne Mourdoukouta learned something completely different professionally. It didn't seem realistic to study art for her. It simply lacked the support of her parents to start an art study. She initially learned another very practical profession, but she never liked it. The fact that she decided to start her career as an artist took longer.

"Training at art colleges is really helpful and good for learning techniques. If you don't have that from the beginning, you have to experiment more to find the techniques and skills that suit you“, she says. „For me, it was practically just not like that. Nevertheless, I later attended several one-months painting retreats to learn Mischtechnik, and on the other hand I learned icon painting professionally, (Ei-Tempera, Öl)."

It is remarkable that Susanne Mourdoukouta has taken a completely different path than the one that many artists are taking. Her art is very creative and imaginative. Painting and drawing is her passion. She may see it as a kind of processing or interpretation of her life and everything that happens around her.

The course of life and the development of her art

In 1990, Susanne Mourdoukouta converted to orthodoxy. In this period she learned icon painting (hagiography). So she painted icons on the one hand and depicted realistic scenes on the other - landscape and everyday country life which surrounded her. In the pictures of this time, the beauty of Greece can be particularly admired. She often paints Greek basilicas and the rural population in the execution of her daily activities. This included, for example, the olive harvest. All these are elements of her pictures.

Rather realistic art fit together with her stage of life as a mother: „As a mother of two small children, I had to be organised and clear. When my children grew up and I moved to Kalamata, I came back to what I had already done as a young woman," she describes.

Twenty years almost exclusively painting nature scenes and icons started then to bore her. Icon art is in her eyes a wonderful art, but the pictures are usually only reproductions of old icons. She would still find it nice and it would help to concentrate and has something meditative for her. And often Elements from Byzantine icon painting and its ornamentation appear still in her pictures.

From "surrealism" to the term "visionary art"

The term "visionary art" originated from surrealism. However, visionary art involves much more spiritual aspects than surreal art. The term "visionary art" did not establish itself for this art form until the 90s. Mostly created intuitively and depicting inner visions of the artist, is different from conceptual art.

Her pictures are so diverse that they should hardly be limited to certain art styles. They are "soul images", which reflect feelings hidden in the depths. They teach us to respect nature with all its resources and to open our hearts to the beauty of the world that surrounds us. In this way, we can succeed in getting into harmony with all elements of the world through art.

"Dark Visionary Art"

Many "Visionary Art" artists show dark sides in their pictures, demons and gloomy symbols that they celebrate through their art. These are called Dark Surreal Artists. A well-known artist among them was Hans Rudolf Giger, from Zurich.

In Susanne Mourdoukouta's pictures, such elements also find their space and she expresses such dark worlds of thought, but would never, as she says, celebrate them.

The first generation of fantastic realism

Among her peers, there are many representatives from the first generation of fantastic realism. The main representative was Ernst Fuchs from Vienna, who later also strongly influenced the movement of visionary art. „Many of his students or colleagues from the same group of artists also influence my art. These include, for example, De Es Schwerberger from Vienna and Linda Gartner from New York, both of whom have also worked with Ernst Fuchs. There are also todays visionary art artists that I admire, including, for example, Maura Holden from the USA or Oleg Korolev from Russia."

The key to creativity

For Susanne Mourdoukouta, the secret lies in seeing the little miracles in everything. You just have to learn to be able to see them. Many would lose this gift in the process of adulthood. „If you look closely at things, it is as if there is another form of reality, another dimension.“, she describes, "my art may have the task of opening or broadening this view".

Being an artist means for her dealing creatively with the world and actively shaping life. Artists create works of art through the constant interrelationship between themselves and their environment. The creative experimental process demands many hours of practice and a lot of mental and psychological commitment. However, artists may be able to discover the inexplicable in the profane. Far away from patterns and structures of any kind.

"The potential for creativity is certainly applied to everyone," she believes, "for some, this is expressed in painting. But it can also express itself in completely different skills, in cooking, for example, or in creative dealing with other people.“

Her pictures are created with very different techniques - sometimes only with pencil or ballpoint pen, sometimes with acrylic paints, oil paints, in the mixing technique or with pastel colours. Through photography, her view has widened even more, she says. She intensified to look at everything that surrounds her in great detail. She photographs the water and the light, the dwindling smoke and the different formations of clouds or wood in different colour combinations. In that, she often sees faces, sometimes mythical creatures and other symbolisms, the longer she looks at them. Sometimes, after painting all day, she sits at the iPad until late at night and edits the photographs and uses them as inspiration for new works of art. This opens up deeper perspectives around her.

„I discover the precious and the beautiful in the ordinary. My pictures are also an expression of my inner world“, she says.

Some would perhaps define her art as spiritual. She herself is reluctant to use this term herself. Many would speak of spirituality and "spiritual awakening" without really grasping these terms in depth. The term spirituality would be used so differently nowadays and it is often very opaque what is meant by it at all. That would make this term a cliché. Her art is open for different understandings and interpretations.

The artistic freedom

The beauty of being an artist for her is the freedom, that she can do what she really wants and what wants to come out of her. But she doesn’t live from her art and she feels blessed and thankful for it. Susanne Mourdoukouta feels gratitude for every detail in life. In all her pictures - be it the visionary pictures and drawings or pictures of a romanic basilica, pictures of her Byzantine icon painting or her poetic-realistic art of Greek landscapes - the love for our earth and its wonderful, powerful nature can always be recognised.

Susanne Moudoukouta on Instagram:

Salon Halit Art:


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