A third generation Polish-Ukrainian American, David Hlynsky came to Canada in 1971 to work as a graphic designer at the Coach House Press in Toronto. Hlynsky has worked as a painter, photographer, and holographer. His 1970s photography was primarily concerned with objects of the everyday, highlighting the banal by the sheer obsession of his careful photographic technique in series such as Salvage (1981).
Having co-founded Fringe Research, a studio dedicated to the art of holography, with Michael Snowdon in 1974, Hlynsky has used holography to continue the study of the everyday and our perception of it, using the irony of the hologram’s illusion of three-dimensionality as it forces us to question other realities we take for granted. Such work includes Fitsall (1974) a white-light hologram of a bathtub plug on a chain that was exhibited as part of the grand opening of the Fringe Research studio. Writing about the effectiveness of the hologram in art, Hlynsky wrote in 1977: "We enjoy the perceptual acrobatics required to distinguish the real from the unreal. Certain kinds of well-made holographs are almost touchably convincing. There is a sense of power in correctly labelling our illusions and a thrilling danger that some day we might forget the distinction."
Between 1986 and 1990, Hlynsky made three photographic trips to eastern Europe, and since then has produced a large body of photographs concerned with the communist regime in Europe and the fall of the Iron Curtain. The 1990 series, Windows through the Curtain, consists of photographs capturing the artist’s reaction to communist Poland and the former Czechoslovakia, where "my most powerful sensation was that these streets were somehow more 'real' than I had imagined. East Bloc citizens were largely occupied by the same routines as my neighbours at home: eating, working and maintaining relationships" (1990). In expressing this through his work, which continued to focus on the everyday, Hlynsky affirmed his belief that "the primary contribution of photography to human expression is its relentless capture of inadvertent detail reminding us (often subliminally) that mundane experience is always more complete than our ideological models" (1990). This kind of photographic commentary was continued in the 1992 series, Moscow Before the Fall.Since 1991 he has been working on Naturae Humanae / Wilderness Camp, a series of still life constructions and tableaux using textures and forms of the Ontario woodlands, with the application of text, and computer drawings contrasted with hand-drawn images. In 1991 he was awarded a commission to create photo murals for the new Metro Toronto Hall.
Hlynsky is the former editor of Image Nation magazine, and over the years has written extensively in numerous art and photography magazines. He also co-curated Toronto’s Rolling Landscape Subway Show (1978), involving the installation of art in subway stations, and has collaborated frequently on theatrical and performance art projects in Toronto.