Burtynsky's large scale colour photographs document the many facets of nature as they are transformed by human industry. Industrial processes such as gold- and silvermining are presented as highly expressive visions where beauty is found in the most unlikely of places.
The images by Burtynsky (born 1955 in St. Catharines, Ontario) are metaphors of the dilemma of our modern existence. We are drawn by the desire for prosperity and a good comfortable life, yet we all know that the world suffers to meet those demands. Our dependence on nature to provide us with the materials for our consumption, in contrast to our concern for the health of our planet, sets us into the uneasy contradiction that feeds the dialogue in Burtynsky's images between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. This contradiction is absolutely intended, as the artist insists that he is not celebrating nor condemning anything; neither industrialization nor the impact of civilization on the environment. Edward Burtynsky shows exceptional talent with his constant attention to composition and light, always presenting images with a painter's eye for colour and a sculptors feel of form.
Burtynskys photographs are included in the collections of numerous major museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Canada, the Biblioteque National in Paris, and the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. Edward Burtynsky is established as one of Canada's most respected contemporary photographers. In June 2006, he was appointed to the Order of Canada, Canadas highest civilian honour, recognizing lifetime achievement.