Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

David Robert Elliott – Staring at the Sea, 2019-2020

Feb 22, 2021 - Matthew Shain

Give me silence, water, hope
Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes


– Neruda


The grace and violence of waves crashing on rocks is universally appealing. The massive release of energy, the suspended forms of the foamy water as it crests and collapses is irresistible but often common. Depicting this phenomenon may be nothing new, but what David has done with it, I find truly poetic.


David spent a year staring at the sea. He studied the roars and slaps, the churning chaos, the roil and tumult. He stared not just with his eyes, but with all of his senses. Then he took all of it back to his studio and synthesized the experience through the images he made. These are not straight-forward depictions of crashing waves. They are visceral and nearly synesthetic. The perspective is discombobulating. Are we looking down or straight across? Sometimes, I swear it feels as though we are somehow looking up. How is that possible!? We seem to be inside the wave, like the nucleus of a powerful explosion. The scenes are pure chaos and yet, there is a deafening silence, stillness in each kinetic release. Scale is inverted and flipped throughout the suite of images. What is surely enormous – colossal rocks or the cavernous spaces between them – seem small and distant. At the same time, even the tiniest droplet of water appears to have the weight of a planet.


These are not just pictures of waves crashing on rocks. They are our psyches and they are the result of time spent studying a subject, first in reverie, then with purpose. The pictures are meditations designed not to replicate the experience, but to elicit that reverie. They are raw emotion, blood and guts, bursting and broken hearts, realized and shattered dreams, peace and turmoil. They move me and I hope they do the same for you.