Das stille Sein (The Silence of Being) is Elger Esser‘s third solo exhibition at the Galerie Van der Grinten. We present a selection of unique landscapes created in France, during different seasons and times of day or night: Mont-Saint-Michel, tidal flats, the coastline, landscapes along the Loire…
For 30 years, Elger Esser has traveled the regions of France in search of archetypal landscapes. In his recent works, the composition focuses more and more often on the line where the sea meets the sky and its cloud formations. The new technical possibilities that the artist has developed in recent years seem to have stimulated and influenced his pictorial evolution within his master subject, the landscape. Combining different techniques, he transposes his photographs, taken with a large format camera, by direct printing with ink on silvered copper plates. They are then varnished and framed in specially designed frames which make them into small and medium format paintings (at the same time the artist continues his work in monumental format). The use of a silver support allows Elger Esser to enhance the effects of light and its play in the sky and on the water and to intensify the radiance of the colors. Through the back and forth movement in front of the image, the light and colors seem to modify and vibrate as if in the open air, which further reinforces the liveliness inherent in the images and the adequacy between the image and its subject, form and substance. These hybrid works are halfway between painting and photography, thus extending Elger Esser’s reflections on the dialogue between these two modes of artistic expression.
An incredible presence, a sort of majesty, always seems to emerge from Elger Esser’s landscapes which are nevertheless generally discreet places, often unknown to the general public. It is the very essentiality of the landscape, in fact, that the artist manages to translate. Even when he integrates into his views the architectural testimonies that are there (bridges, old buildings), he removes them from any temporal, historical and spatial contingency. His motifs thus achieve something universal and timeless. And it is with this same view that Esser treats Mont-Saint-Michel, this immense silhouette resting for a millennium in a seascape of breathtaking beauty, as a symbol of immanence.
Why does the contemplation of the landscape, the tides, the sky, the rising or setting sun exercise such fascination on man all over the world? Do we perhaps find in this contemplation of nature a visible manifestation of the notion of beauty, so often abstract and controversial? Or do these moments perhaps awaken in everyone a feeling of belonging to the world, this great, incomprehensible whole? To admire the beauty of the landscape in the miracle of light is to pause to be moved by it and to feel, deep within, the silence and calm of being. Perhaps then we can access the deep dimension where the enigmas of existence are hidden, far from the noise and hustle and bustle of everyday life. Through his works, Elger Esser subtly invites us to think about these questions.
Elger Esser was born in 1967 in Stuttgart and grew up in Rome. He studied from 1991 to 1997 at the Düsseldorf Academy with Bernd Becher. His works are, among others, represented in the collections of the following museums: Guggenheim Museum New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, Kunsthaus Zürich, Center Pompidou Paris, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus München, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Elger Esser, „Das stille Sein“
November 18, 2023 – January 28, 2024
Galerie Van der Grinten
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