SAATCHI GALLERY: Eward Burtynsky, through May 6, 2024

May 6th, 2024


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“BURTYNSKY: Extraction/Abstraction” will occupy Saatchi’s Kings Road Gallery from February 14, 2024 – May 6, 2024. The expansive exhibition, curated by Marc Mayers – former Director of the National Gallery of Canada and Musée 
d’art contemporain de Montréal – features a striking collection of 13 murals, 92 60×80 images, AI installation and a presentation of the immersive film: In the Wake of Progress (2022). Heralded as one of the most significant shows of this year, it delves into themes of ecology and the Anthropocene, marking the most extensive showcases of Burtynsky’s career. Over the last four decades, Edward Burtynsky has documented the environmental impacts of large-scale industry, working from cranes, planes and more recently with the use of drones he has captured the scenes of a planet altered by industry. The captivating images prompt viewers to ponder the beauty amidst environmental degradation.

Mayers has selected some of Burtynsky’s most compelling images to serve as an allegory of Earth in the epoch of the demigods. Each photograph challenges viewers to look down at the mines, quarries, factories, cities and wastelands that have become the collateral damage of an Anthropocene which has “mined, deforested and left its planet for dead”. These warped landscapes are awe-inspiring but unfamiliar, appearing like renderings of another planet. Yet, they maintain a haunting beauty portraying a subjugated yet enduring planet, embodying a central paradox in Burtynsky’s work.

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Despite the technological changes in photography over the span of his career, Burtynsky has sustained a consistent style that is unparalleled, the exhibition includes a “process archive” that offers visitors an insight into the adaptive techniques of this chameleon-like master.

Edward Burtsynsky

Devoid of human presence, Burtynsky’s images invite viewers to reckon with the consequences of their ecological complacency. “Extraction/Abstraction” transforms the walls of the Saatchi Gallery into a chapel-like sanctum of self-contemplation prompting visitors to ponder their role in the impact of the Anthropocene.

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All Images via Art Observed.

- J. Gataaura