Entering the transformed gallery from a room of French 19th century art, the impact is stunning…. Ineffability is the keynote of Henson’s work. Even the most detailed description would not prepare viewers for the experience of standing in front of these images in a darkened room…. The landscapes are deceptively straightforward at first glance….Yet the complexity of taking the picture from exactly the right position with the right quality of light is immense. It’s one of the miracles of art that the most difficult and complicated processes result in works of pristine simplicity… With the figure studies, Henson has posed his teenage models in inky darkness….In one of the most striking a girl rests her head on the wrist of a long, thin arm that snakes away out of darkness… The serpentine rhythms of the composition are breathtaking. There’s an immediate, primal charge; a mystery and sensuality; and a sense of mythical, archetypal associations that can be felt but not readily identified.
– John McDonald, review of Bill Henson’s exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, 2017
Bill Henson represented Australia at the 46th Venice Biennale in 1995. Henson’s solo exhibitions include: Bill Henson, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (2017); Cloud Landscapes, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2013); Bill Henson: Three Decades of Photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2005); Bill Henson, Centro de Fotografia, University of Salamanca, Spain (2003); Bill Henson, Scalo, Zurich, Switzerland (2001); Bill Henson, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (1993); Bill Henson Photography, Denver Art Museum, Colorado, USA (1989); Bill Henson Photographs, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (1990); and Bill Henson Fotografien, Museum Moderner Kunst, Palais Liechtenstein, Vienna (1989).
Henson had his first solo exhibition, at the age of 19, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1975. The NGV has now acquired over 100 works by Henson, the most significant of any public institution. Henson’s work is held in every major public collection in Australia and many overseas collections including Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Denver Art Museum, USA; Houston Museum of Fine Art, USA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; Sammlung Volpinum, Vienna; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA; Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA; 21C Museum, USA; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Tate, London.
This is Bill Henson’s first exhibition in Sydney in seven years. It is his tenth exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)