Bill Henson

NGV Bill Henson, Untitled, inkjet printSelected by the artist, and encompassing themes including portraits, nudes, lush museum interiors and transcendent landscapes, the National Gallery of Victoria presents the major solo exhibition, Bill Henson, showcasing recent works by the Australian photographer, who is celebrated for his powerful images that sensitively explore the complexities of the human condition.

The exhibition brings together twenty-three photographs selected by the artist, traversing the key themes in the artist’s oeuvre, including sublime landscapes, portraiture, as well as classical sculpture captured in museum settings.

Inviting contemplation, Henson’s works present open-ended narratives and capture an intriguing sense of the transitory. Henson’s portraits show his subjects as introspective, focused on internal thoughts and dreams; his landscapes are photographed during the transitional moment of twilight; and the images shot on location inside museums juxtapose graceful marble statues against the transfixed visitors observing them.

Henson’s work is renowned for creating a powerful sense of mystery and ambiguity through the use of velvet-like blackness in the shadows. This is achieved through the striking use of chiaroscuro, an effect of contrasting light and shadow, which is used to selectively obscure and reveal the form of the human body, sculptures and the landscape itself.

“Henson’s photographs have a palpable sense of the cinematic and together they form a powerful and enigmatic visual statement,” said Tony Ellwood, Director NGV. “The NGV mounted Bill Henson’s first solo exhibition in 1975 when Henson was only 19. Over forty years later, audiences to the NGV will be captivated by the beauty of Henson’s images once more.”

On display at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the ingaugural NGV Festival of Photography, the exhibition has been made possible by the extraordinary generosity of Bill Bowness, whose gift of twenty-one photographs by Henson makes the NGV’s collection of his work the most significant of any public institution. The exhibition will tour to the Art Gallery of Western Australia in September 2017.

Bill Henson
NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Exhibition: 10 March – 27 August 2017
Free admission

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Image: Bill Henson, Untitled, inkjet print 127.0 x 180.0 cm ed. 5/5 National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Gift of William Donald Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2016. © Bill Henson Copyright (C) reserved