From Friedrich to Richter there is a strong tradition of seascape painting in German art. It is one that has used the distance, horizon and mystical meeting point of land, sea and sky to invoke a sense of the sublime and of spiritual transcendence. Elger Esser's Beauduc, Frankreich pays homage to this tradition while also using the ephemeral nature of photography to both question and undermine it.
A student of the Bechers whose powerfully objective and almost metaphysical photographic visions of industrial buildings informed the work of a whole generation of contemporary German photographers from Andreas Gursky to Thomas Ruff, Esser too has developed a way of working that uses the fiercely dispassionate objectivity of his medium to lend his subjects a strange sense of mystery and transience. In Beauduc, Frankreich Esser conveys the reality of the French coastline as if it were mirage. With the brilliant white of the sand and the sky echoing each other and the tiny but insistent details of landscape punctuating this seemingly mystic expanse of nothingness, a vision of the fleeting transience of perceptual reality is persuasively conveyed. The seascape clearly asserts itself once again as a metaphor for transcendence, but at the same time, through the deliberately encouraged and self-evident delicacy of Esser's medium, a sense of the substance of this vision is thrown open to question.