Opening cocktail reception: Thursday, November 1, 7 – 9 pm
World-renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky will have his second solo exhibition in Hong Kong. Known for his disarmingly beautiful images of industrial landscapes, this exhibition follows on the success of his solo show at Sundaram Tagore Hong Kong in 2010 and will present his most recent series, Water, alongside other large-scale photographs shot in Hong Kong, China, India, Azerbaijan, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada and the United States.
In vivid detail and lush color, Burtynsky documents the effects of manufacturing and consumption at some of the world’s largest industrial sites: the mining, quarrying, ship-breaking, oil, rail and recycling industries. The Oxford Tire Pile series, for instance, explores a canyon of 40 million cast-off tires in California and the Bao Steel series uncovers a surreal landscape of coal piles on the banks of the Yangtze River, Shanghai. His works are sobering meditations on the scale and impact of human industry, yet informed by the sublime aesthetics found in nature. Burtynsky states, “These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear.”
Using a large-format viewfinder camera with 4-by-5 inch and 8-by-10 inch film, Burtynsky applies his understanding of light and optics to compose remarkably lucid images where each element within the frame is given equal weight. The effect is initially disorientating and the scale of the landscape ambiguous, but closer viewing reveals familiar details. It is these details that make these harsh, inaccessible environments accessible.
Before shooting, Burtynsky thoroughly researches his chosen locations. He works at dawn and dusk, describing it as “the shoulder times.” Relying on his surroundings, Burtynsky uses natural “scaffolding” to position his tripod at high vantage points. The production of his India series saw his camera mounted atop a 50-foot pole and operated remotely from a computer on the ground. The height yields vertiginous, monumental compositions.
Edward Burtynsky’s works are in the collections of more than fifty museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Burtynsky was recognized with a TED award in 2005. In 2006 he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor and in 2007 Burtynsky was the subject of the award-winning documentary Manufactured Landscapes screened at the Sundance Film Festival. He holds three honorary doctorate degrees and his distinctions include the Outreach Award at the Rencontres d’Arles and the Applied Arts Magazine book award. Burtynsky lives and works in Toronto, Canada.
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