Saturday, July 27, 2019

Susanne Janssen

One day while browsing through the internet I came across an extraordinary illustrated version of Hansel and Gretel by an artist called Susanne Janssen; extraordinary because this version did not have the usual variations of gingerbread house and dense forests, rather, right from page 1 which opens out into a double spread of a wounded deer, the illustrations seemed cold and sharp and chilling, a terrifying psychological journey through hell and back to sanity. Also the unusual way the illustrations were made, bold collage, sharp angles,plunging diagonal compositions, red against black, said something about the confidence of the illustrator and her emphatic way of interpreting an old story in an entirely fresh new perspective. There is no room for frills and cuteness in her retelling, instead the visuals are suffused with an anxiety that we all recognize,one that is a part of living in this modern world.
I did what one does when one comes across a “find” on the internet, I bookmarked, I googled, I searched on Facebook for Susanne Janssen, I “friended” her. I am pleased to say that the illustrator reciprocated my enthusiasm of her work by appreciating mine.

Janssen’s illustrations for Hansel and Gretel however, did not leave me easily, I searched on Amazon for the book but could not find it,there are no English versions of the book either. I finally asked someone to get the book for me from abroad and I am glad I did.

For a better understanding of these images in Hansel and Gretel it is necessary to read this in depth analysis in Figure dei Libre. You will have to use Google Translate to read it but I guarantee you will come away completely fascinated.


Some weeks ago, Susanne Janssen sent me some beautiful flyers that she had made for her print making workshops. It provided some balm for the fact that I couldn’t whizz across to attend these sessions. The images on the flyers are beautiful and while they are a different mood from Hansel and Gretel, they are equally powerful and entice me to return to them often. Here are some pictures.