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BURTYNSKY: Extraction / Abstraction his largest ever exhibition to open at Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery has announced BURTYNSKY: Extraction/Abstraction as the major exhibition for its Spring 2024 season. The exhibition, opening to the public on 14th February 2024, marks the largest exhibition ever mounted in the 40+ year career of world-renowned photographic artist, Edward Burtynsky, who has dedicated his practice to bearing witness to the impact of human industry on the planet.

Burtynsky in Belridge, California, USA, 2003 Photograph by Noah Weinzweig, courtesy of the Studio of Edward Burtynsky

I have spent over 40 years bearing witness to the ways in which modern civilization has dramatically transformed our planet. At this time, the awareness of these issues presented by my large format images has never felt more urgent. I am grateful to be mounting the largest exhibition of my career at Saatchi Gallery in London, UK and I hope the exhibition experience will continue to provide inflection points for diverse conversations on these issues and move us all to a place of positive action.

Edward Burtynsky
Thjorsá River #1, Iceland, 2012photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London
Thjorsá River #1, Iceland, 2012 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London

Curated by Marc Mayer, former Director of the National Gallery of Canada and Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the exhibition will feature 94 of Burtynsky’s large-format photographs as well as 13 high-resolution murals, and an augmented reality (AR) experience. A never-before-seen element in this exhibition, referred to as the “Process Archive,” will also showcase Burtynsky’s navigation through each of the technological shifts in the photographic medium that have occurred over recent decades. The exhibition will reveal Burtynsky’s life-long observation of humanity’s incursion into the natural world, and the environmental consequences of industrial processes. 

Nickel Tailings #34, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, 1996 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London

With stinging irony and unwavering technical mastery, Burtynsky’s pictures confront our complacency and trouble our arrogance precisely by flattering our increasingly devastated biosphere with ravishing pictures.

Marc Mayer, Exhibition Curator: 

Occupying two floors of London’s iconic Saatchi Gallery, this major exhibition will be organised into five main sections: Abstraction, Agriculture, Extraction, Manufacturing & Industry, and Waste.

Tailings Pond #2, Wesselton Diamond Mine, Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa, 2018 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London

A presentation of Burtynsky’s most ambitious project to date  — In the Wake of Progress — will be a special feature of the exhibition. This 22-minute multimedia experience, co-produced by legendary music producer Bob Ezrin (known for his work with Pink Floyd, Andrea Bocelli, Peter Gabriel, Taylor Swift and many others), will immerse audiences in the story of human industry’s impact on Earth, told through artistry and scale, urging us to rethink our legacy and seek a more sustainable future. Forty years in the making, In the Wake of Progress combines the most powerful photographs and film footage of Burtynsky’s career, choreographed to a compelling award-winning original score.      

Cathedral Grove #1, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, 2017 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London

Through a deep historical understanding of image-making, and a mastery of the photographic medium, Burtynsky invites viewers to look at places that exist beyond our common experience, places that satisfy our wants and needs in the present while they determine the future of our habitat. Paired with the serious ecological concern that drives Burtynsky’s creative process is an equally compelling exploration of the strangely beautiful marks industry leaves on the canvas of the Earth. 

The exhibition will also highlight both local and national organisations who are making positive contributions to the areas of sustainability, biodiversity loss, conservation and climate change through a dedicated interactive space and connected online materials.

Visitors will also be able to make a contribution to the exhibition by leaving a message of their own hope for a sustainable future.

This is an exhibition that reminds us how beautiful our planet is. Burtynsky has even captured how beauty remains evident in the ways that humans have exploited its resources for our own ends. However, these images are also a wake-up call for humanity to change its ways or face a precarious and uncertain future. I cannot think of a more important exhibition that we could have presented.

Paul Foster, Saatchi Gallery Director

BURTYNSKY: Extraction/Abstraction, 14th February – 6th May 2024, Saatchi Gallery

Tickets can be booked in advance online at saatchigallery.com/ticket

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