George Byrne’s newest series ‘Synthetica’, now exhibiting at the Olsen Gallery, explores the interplay between the natural and the artificial. Running from Wednesday, 7 February to Sunday, 3 March, the series pays tribute to George’s photographic origins while seeking to challenge conventional notions of reality, particularly in a time marked by the escalating presence of technology and artificial intelligence.
“My work is a comment on the way I process the world around me,” explains George, a captivating and intuitive artist in the realm of contemporary photography. Originally from Sydney, he now resides and works in Los Angeles, drawing inspiration from the city for his latest works. “I’d always been interested in anti-landscape photography, but it wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles and started shooting in colour and experimenting with manipulation and assemblage that I felt I was able to do anything very expressive or original with it,” says George. Known for creating large-scale photographs that transform everyday surfaces and landscapes into painterly abstractions, George’s works skilfully blend elements of modernist painting with the principles of the New Topographics photography movement.
George engages in a process that involves questioning, re-examining and reinterpreting. “There are so many ways to interpret the world around us… it helps me get the most out of the world I live in,” he says. “I’m more curious about the process of making photos, rather than simply taking them, which happens through experimentation with various forms of manipulation and digital reconstruction.” Hence, George doesn’t follow a procedure when creating; instead, he works intuitively and experimentally. As a result, the images often veer in entirely different directions from where they began.
The series portrays scenes from various locations across America, including Los Angeles, Daytona Beach, Death Valley and Yellowstone National Park. These scenes collectively convey a distinct theme characterised by a nuanced blend of epic man-made structures and natural landscapes. George says, “I was concentrating my mind to see if I can envisage something past the physical thing in front of me and imagine a more synthetic world.”
Olsen Gallery owner and art connoisseur Tim Olsen says, “Byrne’s adept exploration of urban landscapes, whether domestic or industrial, challenges our predisposed perceptions of the ordinary.”
Olsen Gallery owner and art connoisseur Tim Olsen says, “Byrne’s adept exploration of urban landscapes, whether domestic or industrial, challenges our predisposed perceptions of the ordinary. Transforming the overlooked terrain of Los Angeles and beyond, into a stage for aesthetic contemplation, Byrne prompts us to pause and scrutinise the ostensibly banal settings we might have otherwise dismissed.”
By capturing subject matter deeply rooted in the mundane urban environment, ‘Synthetica’ encourages us to reconsider our future in a polarising manner, evoking both anticipation and apprehension. “There is a strong sense of escapism in the images but also resolution – these are dreamscapes… portals to a world just adjacent to the one we live in,” says George.