Edward Burtynsky: Salt Pans | Essential Elements

September 29 - October 22, 2016

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 29, 6-8pm
Artist Talk: with William A. Ewing and book signing Saturday, October 1, at 2 pm

For recent press on these exhibitions, click here.

Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce two concurrent exhibitions by Edward Burtynsky, Salt Pans and Essential Elements. The exhibitions will open on September 29th and run until October 22nd with an opening reception on Thursday, September 29th. The exhibitions are accompanied by two new books, Edward Burtynsky - Salt Pans, published by Steidl, and Edward Burtynsky – Essential Elements, curated and edited by William A. Ewing and published by Thames & Hudson.  A special limited edition of Edward Burtynsky – Salt Pans features a Salt Pans print and is available for purchase through the gallery. A talk with Burtynsky and Mr. Ewing will take place at 2 pm on Saturday, October 1.

Salt Pans is Edward Burtynsky’s most recent body of work. For this new series, Burtynsky traveled to Gujarat, India to photograph the Little Rann of Kutch, a region that is home to more than 100,000 salt workers extracting around one million tons of salt from the floodwaters of the Arabian Sea each year. Salt has been their main industry for the last four hundred years. Receding groundwater levels and declining market values will in time make this way of life obsolete and will cause the salt pans to disappear.

From an aerial vantage point approximately 500 - 800 feet above the ground, Burtynsky photographed this unusual landscape of multi-coloured interlocking rectangles, spanning across the delta. In recent years, Burtynsky’s photographs have become increasingly abstract as a result of his topographical perspective and fascination with finding similarities in the industrialized landscape to painting. Salt Panscontinues in this direction with Burtynsky exploring the subtle modulations of tone and compositional balance of the pans, and the calligraphic tracks from vehicles referencing scale and human activity. Burtynsky’s images encapsulate the delicate balance between natural and human processes – the presence of salt in the earth’s composition and our need to harness it.

Essential Elements features a selection of works from the new book, Edward Burtynsky – Essential Elements. Over a period of three years, William A. Ewing, an internationally acclaimed author, lecturer and curator of photography, surveyed Burtynsky’s entire photographic archive comprised of over four decades of work. The project includes both iconic images and previously unpublished photographs, combined and contrasted to provide an original and thought provoking look at Burtynsky’s practice as well as a comprehensive survey of his work. Works from the Early LandscapesHomesteadsMinesQuarriesChinaOil and Australia series will be presented in this exhibition, some of which have not been previously released.

What does the work say to us as a whole, putting aside the category in which each image was meant to fit? If we think of Burtynsky’s entire oeuvre as a well-ordered deck of cards, what happens when we give it a vigorous reshuffle? Might the new patterns taken by those cards tell us something unexpected? Might deeper currents running through the images not make themselves apparent? Might we not better discern what the photographer himself calls the ‘essential elements’? In short, dispensing of narrative, or implied narrative, decontextualizing and recontextualizing the pictures might reveal hidden dimensions, or at least help elucidate the reasons for their powerful impact. – William A. Ewing, excerpt from Edward Burtynsky – Essential Elements

Edward Burtynsky’s works are in the collections of over fifty museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Reina Sofía Museum, Madrid; the Art Gallery of Ontario; and the National Gallery of Canada. Burtynsky is the subject of Jennifer Baichwal’s 2006 film Manufactured Landscapes, and co-directed the 2014 film Watermark, with Baichwal. Burtynsky received the inaugural TED Prize in 2005 and won the Tiffany Mark award in 2012. In 2006, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2016 he received the Governor General’s Award for Visual Arts. His distinctions also include the National Magazine Award; MOCCA award; Outreach Award at Rencontres d’Arles; ICP Infinity Award; and the Kraszna Krausz Book Award.