Edward Burtynsky at Mira Godard (22 Hazelton) to May 18. 416-964-8197. Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
Edward Burtynsky's new exhibition title, Eight Large Photographs, is misleading. These works are beyond large. They're giant. Not in size, but in skill. Burtynsky always trains his camera on some aspect of industry, from input to output to where to put the waste. Here, two new series focus on oil extraction and delivery. In photographs of the industry in Alberta, long silver pipes jut out of the green forest, running along man-made clearings to move crude down the line.
Wide shots of an oil field in California are even more stunning. Windswept sands are alive with pumping oil wells, a sea of silent mechanical workers bending over and panning for black gold. Deeper into the pictures, the churning sand obscures definition, making the background look like the faded cover of an old board game.
On the third floor is Burtynsky's India. In a photograph taken from above, the sheer white rock faces of a marble quarry shoot straight to the bottom of a pit. Two workers rest near a large puddle of green water. Two other shots of an Indian salt works show the encrusted walls, pure white from the coarse salt residue.
Shipbreaking, his most impressive series to date, shows workers dismantling massive old freighters that lie beached in moist sand at low tide. Shot in a stunning low, orange light, these photos are breathtaking.
I overheard one well-heeled collector, upset that she hadn't been invited to see the work prior to the opening, telling a gallery attendant he should get down on his knees and beg her forgiveness for the oversight.
The work is that good.