Bill Henson: 3 Decades of Photography

Spent some time today at the Bill Henson photography exhibition at NGV; and impressed a lot with some of the works, and impressed not all by others. I first saw Henson’s work in some early Scripsi covers in the 1980s I think. Like almost all very good artists, you can trace the lineage of his themes and images from very early work through to the slash and crop and taped up surrealistic images of future dislocation, or post-industrial ‘Walkabout’

What I liked (naturally for me probably) were the landscapes, the great mases of clouds looming beautifully over the prosaic world beneath, and some of the black and white (they’re mainly black and white images) of the physical beauty and enduring strength of buildings against the fragility and innocence of the figures.

I wasn’t as keen on the crowd shots that he’s been mucking around with for years, particularly the shots of people walking up the street, though when you get to the beautifully framed and lit opera watching shots, you get a feel for where it’s going.

I don’t know; there’s also something simplistic almost? romantic even? about the images at times, like a kind of beautiful adolescent dream that never grew up. I like a lot of it, but there was maybe a dozen photographs that really made me stop and stand there.

Bill Henson: 3 Decades of Photography


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