Susanne Rikus (* 1968 in Höxter, Westphalia) is a German artist.
Acting on an intercultural level, she makes use of a multitude of expressive options. In addition to painting, photography, singing, dance, and performance, she also constructs walk-in sound sculptures and themed houses where she explores new architectural perspectives. The focus of her artwork is the intensive examination of the evidence of old traditions and material cultural assets on site.
After graduating in architecture in 1992 and practicing the profession, he worked in European countries, in Hawaii, Mexico, Canada, Chicago, and New York. A few months after receiving the Culture Prize of the Höxter District in 1994, her career in art and architecture was interrupted by a serious car accident. Her artistic work has been based on this existential experience ever since. After studying dance and studying in Vancouver (Canada) and teaching at home and abroad (including Chicago Columbia College, Holzminden-Hildesheim University of Applied Sciences) and study trips through many European countries, through South Africa and Canada, she now lives and works temporarily in Sardinia or Hawaii. She has had her own gallery since 1996, since 2014 in the Heckmann-Höfe in Berlin-Mitte.
Susanne Rikus works on-site with the ancient and rich knowledge of the respective culture that she has acquired. From this, she develops partly process-like layer by layer, partly very spontaneously colored, expressive painting with multiple thematic references. This aesthetic often harbors explosive and at the same time sheltering moments and generates strong energy that condenses in the respective art form. Susanne Rikus also physically expresses archetypal knowledge in the dialogue of cultures through dance, music, and singing or performances.
In a technique developed by the artist, transfer art, she finally allows the past to permeate the present. In the process, she transfers photographs of historical places or nature with color pigments onto canvas or a transparent carrier such as B. Acrylic glass. By further processing with color, Susanne Rikus frees the motif and puts it in a new context of meaning. The intangible, the longing for the sources and their living foundations is expressed in pictures. With the artistic focus on the common roots of cultures in the sense of an appreciative connection, Susanne Rikus hopes for more mutual tolerance and international understanding. Her specific way of looking at old, cultural riches and special places such as places of worship or temples, which she then implements artistically, was only developed after her car accident.
Dealing with her near-death experience during the accident – the doctors gave her no hope of ever being able to work artistically again – not only made her survivable but also gave her deep insights and experiences on a high level of consciousness. Since then she has been working intensively with this and would like to give more meaning to the soul and spirit in art on the basis of intuitive experience. Susanne Rikus is committed to the artistic tradition of pioneers in this field, such as the Swedish painter Hilma Af Klint (1862–1944) (without knowing her beforehand), who devoted herself to the spiritual search throughout her life and whose abstract works are without exception based on it. This topic is playing an increasingly important role in the art world. A journalist said at the beginning of November 2020 shortly before the lockdown: “(…) I meet the artist personally in the gallery of Susanne Rikus Fine Arts (…). Shortly before the cultural sites are closed, I experience this place as a special cosmos of movement, energy, and color, a spirited modern revelation on the cultural history of mankind.
Hi, Susanne! Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you begin doing art and how did you get started? When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Susanne: I was brought up in an old medieval town called Hoexter. It’s in the middle of Germany, between Hanover and Kassel (“Documenta”). My parents had four children, I have two big brothers and one younger sister and my father was a professor of architecture. When I was very young, we would often go out into nature. He was drawing wild orchids. We had a big variety of orchids in nature, so it was a really pure landscape.
My father was also studying archaeological sites and uncovering new cult sites of the Celts. He was teaching prehistoric ways of life: how to make bronze, making fire with stones or a bow, and how to survive in the wilderness.
I was brought up using a bow and arrow, using boomerangs. Our household was littered with old artifacts, mostly forgotten skills, and provided a non-conformist, creative and artistic backdrop to my childhood. Still, I learned martial arts, riding a motorbike, singing in a chorus, and drawing and painting. My wish was to sell my paintings in the future as I did already as a 10-year-old girl on the street.
I really felt joyful in singing. I was in a church, 13 years old, and for a few hundred people I was singing a solo “Benedictus” and felt in that moment that’s what I’m here for.
We had a great teacher in history and in religion, we were all going through the bible and drawing: I was drawing the pyramids and bible stories.
I was riding horses and drew them.
I visited my grandma with my mum. We enjoyed the coffee houses in a bigger city, which awoke my desire for later creating art dinners.
After graduating in architecture in 1992, you’ve traveled a lot. Tell us a bit more about that experience. Also, do you think traveling influenced your art, if yes, how?
Susanne: I studied architecture, graduating in 1992. I really love old houses and nature. I painted many watercolors plein air, having my tea with me, my cake and I would paint just feeling with all my senses. I really felt and still feel that painting is like a celebration.
I worked in architecture offices as an architect in the designing and construction of houses.
Then, I was invited for a month to paint in Venice.
My father had a big conflict with this and told me “Art can`t feed you.”, I said I will go to Venice, Veneto, and Vicenza.
We painted the Palladian villas in Veneto. Painting in Venice day and night gave me the feeling of so much passion and joy. Painting plein air and having lovely cappuccino or prosecco or some little cakes. When I use watercolors, everything is included: architecture, weather, and people. When it starts raining, little drops are on
the paper, when it’s a bit misty, the color is different. I think watercolor is very pure and really honest. Watercolor can’t lie, which means, you can’t correct it. So, I really love this media and for me painting in Venice brought out my artist career.
Somebody bought so many paintings of mine and I came back to Germany with a big check and I felt that I can live from selling my art and so, ever since I have proven that my father wasn’t right.
If I’ve understood well, your architecture career was interrupted by a serious car accident and your artistic work has been based on this existential experience ever since. Could you tell us a bit more about this, and what is the connection with your work?
Susanne: In 1995 I had a major car accident.
Before I was getting the culture price of Hoexter, I was having a show in the castle of Corvey, which is now a UNESCO cultural heritage site. I won the prize and just a few months later I got into a car accident, where I was smashed all over and I’ve had a near-death experience. My bones were broken and the doctor said to me “You will never be able to dance and paint again”. It was a big crisis for me.
I could not accept this and remembered the story of Bruce Lee who healed his broken hand by visualization.
In remembering my inner resources, I healed myself.
I was trained in martial arts in Taekwondo and looked at Bruce Lee’s videos as a child and heard how he was healing his hand, which was smashed all over and the bones were just like little bits.
This was the same with my elbow too. I was visualizing like that inside my body are little ferries building every day in the hospital my bones together.
This was so effective that my bones healed in 2,5 weeks quicker than normal, and I can now move my elbow nearly the same as before.
My mouth was tied with metal wires, it was all broken; for three-quarters of a year, I was wired up. I couldn’t open my mouth; I was just having a straw and drinking all liquid food. And I had to be in a wheelchair for months.
This was a big big big learning moment for me.
Focusing on the better, focusing on the future, focusing on the present moment.
I asked myself —and that’s all in my art —it’s about who am I? And I found out that my old thinking about who I am, how life is, was not enough. I needed to really understand who am I in my essence.
I had these big questions, what is creation, what is my part in creation, how can I change my life in a way from within?
What is my role in this big plan of society, of existence, why am I alive, what is my purpose so all these questions about life and my healing.
My journey in healing myself brought me to Hawaii, to Vancouver Island, Mexico, South Africa, Provence, Italy (Sardinia) etc.
Throughout, I painted different watercolors incorporating communication with nature, doing vision quests, learning from the native Indians on Vancouver Island and from several Hawaiian elders on Hawaii. All this went into my works. I visited Hawaii 17 times in two decades.
I studied geomancy, sacred architecture. There’s a mystery behind the form, there’s a mystery behind ancient art and architecture, that’s something that can be seen in Leonardo da Vinci’s work.
What is behind a painting, what makes a painting so mysterious? I layer my works with hidden images, contrasts, and sometimes I add external lighting to bring forth or hide these.
I combine being an architect with photographing ancient architecture – ancient temples.
There’s a knowledge we can learn from it today because the ancient architects were really building an alignment.
We can learn from nature; for me, nature is my teacher because i’s pure – it never lies.
Our body never lies, it is the instrument of our soul.
I did a lot of big nude paintings to remember the healing process. And through our body we can gain wisdom, in Hawaii, they have this teaching.
What are some of the tools you use to create your distinct style of artwork?
Susanne: I call my new artwork technique “Transfer technique”.
The tool is different, I am on a spot somewhere like in Florence and get inspired by the culture, the old sculptures, and houses.
I don’t have to copy the reality, so I take a photo and later transfer the photo on canvas or glass.
The whole process needs a lot of time, for getting all the materials and getting them transferred.
But then I do the magical work… painting, washing pigments away and making a place for wonder, dreams, and for a new meaning.
What is a day of working like in your studio? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”, some music maybe?
Susanne: Creating my art is doing the right thing.
On the way to the studio in my car, I say: thank you God for being alive, thank you for having this place, the space for creating art.
I call in all four directions, like in the medicine wheel and I feel grateful for life.
I really love drinking macadamia nut coffee in Hawaii – in Berlin, I drink hazelnut flavored coffee, bridging this feeling of Hawaii, driving a Jeep, having coffee on the beach, and watching the sunrise, and then just painting.
Sometimes, I love the silence, I have a candle lit, I meditate, sometimes I hear sound healing music.
I sing chant, dance, and express myself very physically while painting.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Susanne: To transfer my photo, I need to be really careful, otherwise, I crack it.
With all my work, behind the process, I need time to feed my soul, to create and park time, that I am not available for other works.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Susanne: Since my 27th year, I do all these art shows and invite people to come.
It’s like a big happening, I am chanting, dancing, performing and having nice food and drinks.
The shows are a special time together, and sometimes people come in spontaneously to see my art in my studio and gallery, the door is open. Since 2014, I own my “Art Gallery Susanne Rikus” in Berlin-Mitte.
I am on Artsy and other social media channels, these provide an easy way to see
and buy my art.
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Susanne: I see my life as having the purpose, through my art, to remind us that we, as humans, must reconnect to a source within ourselves and to nature and cultures. Sometimes we are too busy, too stressed in this modern life.
Rebalancing the soul and reconnecting to our true being – to energy, to beauty, to our dreams is necessary; life is too short for waiting.
There is a wonder, there’s a love connection, there’s peace, we just have to listen.
We’re the architects of our lives. We’re the architects of what happens in the world. We are in charge, and I want people to remember that this life is very special.
It’s a gift and whatever pops up, just embrace it and make the best out of it.
Giving hope, giving joy, giving bliss, that’s my goal and giving a reconnection to the spirit world, to nature, honoring old nations & native nations, and honoring our ancestors.
On the top of the temple of Apollo in Delphi (Greece) is written: “Know thyself”.
Finding out who you are, that’s mysterious because we are much more than we ever know.
We are such amazing beings.
In doing my art, I find peace in myself, it´s an everyday process to invent possibilities for art projects.
I want to inspire people to rethink the past, see the potential in traditions, and create something new and more updated.
What advice would you give to upcoming artists, how to think out-of-the-box and grow?
Susanne: I often feel when upcoming artists come into my gallery, that some are not brave enough, they hold on to find somebody else, like a gallerist, and don`t believe in the next step to go alone. I feel like they are making themselves little and dependent.
There are more ways to make business… and there are stepping stones and risks to invest. It is always good to find potential business partners, but don`t stop when it is not so easy in the first place.
We have to reinvent the art business and become better business people and open to new ways to show & sell art.
It is not enough to be quite good at art.
It’s important to dream up new ways of bringing it to the world, creating startups. We are not just artists, we are also business people.
How to bridge the artist’s way into society?
When you really believe in your art — the best is to grab every chance that comes along. Instead of waiting, act now and never give up, that’s my advice.
What’s next on the horizon for Susanne?
Susanne: It would be awesome to get to know gallerists & art curators to help others to see my art in New York, Sydney, and other places to serve people.
My thinking out of the box is for customers to create architecture and furniture that resonate with their soul and that will be more connected with nature. (I have all these sketches for temple architecture.)
I am doing more three-dimensional showrooms so that people have this art experience at home.
Creating possibilities, creating situations, and inventing new structures.
I believe in a new artistic way of how art will emerge and will set standards and values in society.
I would love to have an art & healing center one day.
To learn more about Susanne and her art, please check: