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.