June 1, 2017 - Fondazione Stelline - Elger Esser: De Sublime
June 1, 2017

Fondazione Stelline

Elger Esser, Tonnay I, France, 1997. C-print. © Elger Esser.

Elger Esser
De Sublime
April 20–June 25, 2017

Lecture : June 9, 6:30–8pm, "Memory: a reflection in the photographic image" by Elger Esser
Fondazione Stelline, Milan

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Curators: Alessandra Klimciuk and Enrica Viganò

The Fondazione Stelline present the first major anthological exhibition to be held in Italy, dedicated to Elger Esser, one of the most famous photographic artists of his generation, with incredible painterly sensibility, the undisputed master of rarefaction in landscapes where art and nature are bound closely together. He is the youngest member of the renowned German photographic school and studied under Bernd and Hilla Becher. His research has added emotion of the Bechers’ documentary approach, while remaining faithful to the conceptual sense of photography and the value of memory imparted by his illustrious teachers, ever-loyal supporters of his work. For his optical perfection and conception of place, the formal rigor of the space and its components and use of large format his work recalls and echoes that of the Bechers.

Entering the world of Elger Esser is a journey into the endless dimension of time and space. 

Sensitive and accurate in his observation, Elger Esser uses pale, almost faded hues or sepia, but also color in expressing different moods—all techniques reminiscent of the romantic spirit of the late 18th century and travel literature of the 19th century. But his works, which can appear classic, become contemporary in their composition, which varies between haziness and sharpness created by long exposure.

The exhibition De Sublime presents 28 works (including four videos) which represent the most important chapters in his whole career: the classical genres of landscapes and vedutas, in which light and framing expand the gaze towards the infinite, in an expansion that is both dreamlike and unsettling; his postcards and heliographic photographs, with his use of early 20th century postcards which he then reprocessed, or images made to resemble paintings with the heliographic technique, appear like fragments of collective memories; the series dedicated to the incredible Garden of Ninfa, which reveals itself in Esser’s painterly shots, suspended between micro and macro visions, between blurring and sharpness, harkens back to the 19th century tradition of naturalistic painting and archeological landscape painting, with the compositional presence of the ruins; right up to the latest creative process of this great artist. In the Ninfa series four videophotographs are also introduced, reproducing images and sounds of the water courses in the magnificent garden and accompanying the spectator on a dreamlike, poetic journey.

Like a present-day alchemist, he continues his endless research even during post-production, which is carried out strictly by hand, experimenting with prints on copper and silver and the effects of oxidization on various highlights.

There is a common thread running through his entire output: the authenticity of research, which invites us to reconsider photography as an element of originality, and redefine its boundaries.

The result of painstaking research and preparation, the location and framing of each of his works become themselves part of that specific moment which is the perfect time, not to mention a well-defined, rigorous space. Space and time are the two coordinates which make up his photographs. The confines of the present moment and defined place, the “here is now,” are dilated until they become lost in infinity, in an expanded sphere between the dimensions of time and space, where the spectator loses his own confines and bearings, but rediscovers the inner, intimate experience of the profound sense of reality and of its endless beauty. Indeed, Esser’s poetics becomes manifest when faced with the magnificence of nature, its beauty, the vastness of its spaces, where the sense of the sublime allows the individual to experience infinity. Contemplating such a spectacle leads the mind to become conscious of its own rational limit, and recognize the possibility of a dimension beyond the realm of the senses, to be experienced on a purely emotional level. 

April 20–June 25, 2017

Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–8pm

fondazione [​at​] stelline.it

Fondazione Stelline
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De Sublime
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