Bill Henson’s latest show at Tolarno is a knock-out. As always, his supine nudes hover in intermediary states between innocence and experience – what makes the photographs so breathtaking is the quality of the prints. Up close, the individual grains of colour are entirely abstract. Step back, and Henson’s mastery of modelling in light and shade reveals itself. His sitters take on a distinctly sculptural dimension, their bluish flesh dense like marble.
Taken within various art museums, the accompanying crowd scenes provide a complementary foil to his stylised adolescents. Recalling the artist’s street shots from the early 1980’s, Henson captures viewers absorbed in moments of quiet contemplation, their interiority amplified by the crowds around them.
And then of course, there are the landscapes, that evoke their own moody twilight states. Shot in sombre blues and a brilliant orange respectively, Henson’s two monumental rock formations enhance the stillness of his human subjects. There is an elegant interrelationship between the thirteen photographs in this exhibition. Together, they sing.
Bill Henson, Tolarno Galleries, Level 4, 104 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, LAST DAY TODAY! Thursday 21st April, 2011.
Leg of Lamb was gobsmacked by the Bill Henson at Roslyn Oxley9‘s stand at VIP Art Fair. Made last year, the photograph recalls Japanese woodblock prints, and even the seascapes of Hiroshi Sugimoto, all the while evoking an exquisite moodiness typical of Henson. There is a marvelous tension between the simplicity of the composition and the textural brilliance of the print, that conveys in each grain subtle shifts of colour and light. Beautiful.
Back in 2008, Sydney columnist Miranda Devine was intrumental in igniting the media frenzy that surrounded Bill Henson’s now infamous exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Her inflammatory article published in the Sydney Morning Herald the day the show was due to open used Henson’s new work as an introduction to a general discussion about pedophilia and the sexualisation of children. The rest, of course, is history.
Now, Devine’s accusing the artist of ‘losing his mojo’. In her snide article regarding his current exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery (his first since the 2008 fiasco), Devine complains about the presence of body guards – necessary in light of the previous threats made to the gallery – and insinuates that there aren’t enough nude photographs in the show.
Obviously Devine hasn’t bothered to do much research. Henson’s work consists of a complementary mix of figures and landscapes. This is the case with his current exhibition and the 2008 hang that sadly very few people saw. Given that the columnist is capable of describing Henson’s work as ‘kiddie porn’ and ‘exquisitely moody’ in the same breath, it’s probably best to just ignore her completely.
Bill Henson, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, 8 Soudan Lane, Sydney, until June 5.