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Edward Burtynsky delights with his shocking photos of a ravaged planet

The Canadian landscape photographer’s new work, Salt Pans, continues his depiction of the profound ways we are altering the planet.


A concurrent exhibition and book, Essential Elements, is a curated look at four decades of “Burtynsky’s stark picture of a ravaged earth," says photo curator William Ewing.


Both exhibitions open Sept. 29 at Toronto’s Nicholas Metivier Gallery.


Salt Pan #15, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto


From an altitude of 500 - 800 feet, Burtynsky photographed this region of Gujarat where salt workers extract one million tons of salt annually from the floodwaters of the Arabian Sea.


Edward Burtynsky, Salt Pan #25, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto


Salt has been the main industry here for 400 years. Receding groundwater levels will cause the salt pans to disappear.


Edward Burtynsky, Salt Pan #20, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto


“While Burtynsky respectfully acknowledges our collective accomplishments he reminds us of the steep price we pay for unbridled material wealth,” essayist William Ewing writes in Essential Elements.


Edward Burtynsky, Salt Pan #18, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto



Edward Burtynsky, Salt Pan #10, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto


Burtynsky's work has become more abstract, removing the horizon line and exploring modulations of tone and compositional balance and the

calligraphic tracks from vehicles referencing scale and human activity.


Grasses, Bruce Peninsula, 1981 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto


Essential Elements combines both iconic images and previously unpublished photographs to provide an original survey of his work.


Railcuts Panorama, C.N. Track, Thompson River, British Columbia, Canada, 1985 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto


Burtynsky's work has shown us mounting evidence of climate disruption for several decades.


Landscape Study #13, Ontario, Canada, 1981 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto


Highland Valley #8, Teck Cominco, Open Pit Copper Mine, Logan Lake, British Columbia, Canada, 2008 photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto


His photos "are attractive: bright, bold, curious, even hopeful. The photographer’s strategy is one of engaging viewers, who, once hooked, might just begin to think about the issues."


Silver Lakes Operations #16, Lake Lefoy, Western Australia, 2007

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