A horned animal sitting in a forest of bright colors in a human body.
Schwund 2019 Click here for more information

German artist Susanne Zagorni’s large canvases are painted from the memories of her experiences. Not exactly what occurred, but the stirring sensations that still exist, lingering inside of her. She is not only interested in what happened, but more interested in the psychology and the “why” that was behind it, the catalyst. Susanne doesn’t only address or believe the treacly greetings in human interactions people are the only embraceable feeling that should be acknowledged, as niceties mask the real dynamics at work, at times the subterfuge of the spirit. We as residents of the world like to bathe in the happy, the easy, the bright. Susanne, she paints the human condition. She feels, to only acknowledge the bright, is to ignore the dark, which is very much a part of all of us and our experience. Sometimes, we are behind a mask or covered by something or someone, an inner turmoil, a feeling to shed one’s skin and step out to something new. At times we can be feeling hopeful, powerful or shy. We can feel in the cold, alone. Sometimes, why not paint that as well? Sometimes, its a wish she is painting. We are feeling something, and she is good at making us feel.

A man hidden inside flowers, in a red cloak, seemingly waving away people as not to interrupt him.
ERNTE, 110 x 100 cm, oil on canvas 2018 (click here) for more information

As we spoke, Susanne remarked, “Who am I without my paintings?” This can be asked of the collector too, who may prefer to gaze and admire, which is another form of participation. There is a deep connection and discovery between the creator and the observer, a shared belief. It is like asking a novelist, who are you without your books? The scholar could say the same. There is fulfillment in both.

Women and children in a forest climbing trees and standing on rocks in the water with trees and vines all around them.
EGOBEHÜTERIN, 120 x 80 cm, (click here) Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 2019

Susanne was trained in theatre painting backgrounds and began painting full time in 2012. She works in her studio five days a week and gives thanks to her husband for being her “mountain.” He not only supports her career, but he is also the model and subject of many of her works. He will come in the studio and make videos and pictures of her and assist her in her social media and Youtube videos.

A colorful abstract painting with people holding on to each other
EGOBEHÜTERIN, 120 x 80 cm, Acryl und Öl auf Leinwand, 2019

As for her observer, Susanne tells Portray, “I don’t always want them to feel good. If the story is horrible or dark sometimes then they should also feel like this. Art is not just something you put on the wall, because it fits your sofa. Art also needs to tell the words of the inner demons and the good things inside. Life isn’t always great and funny. We always want to talk about the light, and the dark also exists. I want people to identify with my work. I don’t want to explain it. Each viewer feels something different. I think it’s important not to explain.

a woman sitting in a park by herself on a bench
EINSAMKEITSBEHÜTERIN, 100 x 90 cm, oil on canvas 2018
mythical hooded women standing in bright colors.
IN IHREM GARTEN, 180 x 180 cm, Öl auf Leinwand, 2019

If you could not live without something in your studio, what would it be?
SZ- My books, all the drawing and sketches and collecting ideas, images, I could not give away. It’s the story behind the work. I never throw away such things. I sometimes collect my mixing colors on my palate. I collect these pieces for abstracts which is important to me, I don’t only work painting people and stories, I also create abstract works.

two women sitting on a bench with cat faces with cats in trees.
VORBILD, 250 x 200 cm, Acryl und oil on canvas, 2019

These mythical subjects whisk you into a forest, an enchanted garden, there seems to be a stoicism to many of her subjects, as they stand up straight, or sit idly waiting for something. The themes and colors she uses in many of her works are vividly potent, intense and glaring, summoning a dream you cannot quite remember where you were the victim, the hero, or the observer. We love to observe her work and cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next.

You can see some of her paintings on Portray’s website (click here) that are for sale and on 1st Dibs., or click below the images to see more information on the works.

You can also follow her on instagram .

Previous article

Feet of Art Basel

About the author




  • v.h August 17, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    fantastic article