Bill Henson is one of Australia’s most distinguished artists. His darkly enigmatic photographs have been exhibited extensively both in Australia and around the world over a period of more than four decades. An internationally acclaimed artist, Henson’s images encompass many themes. His sublime imagery capture fleeting sensations through the shadows and the distanced golden glow of nature, the transition between the known world and the unknown. The sense of mystery and ambiguity within the images is heightened by Henson’s use of chiaroscuro to selectively obscure and reveal forms. The intensity and the intimacy of his images reflect a space between the mystical and the real. Henson’s artistic process is not unlike the painter’s: ‘just as you can scrape back areas of painting and go over them, you do follow something along over maybe several weeks and change things until it slips past its best point and you lose it. And then there’s a long, often a very long, period when the work is turning into something else – you can’t wind it back to whatever it was.’².
Henson’s first solo exhibition, held at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne in 1975 when he was 19 years old, heralded the beginnings of a unique photographic vision of the Australian landscape. The NGV has now acquired over 100 works by Henson, the most significant of any public institution. Henson represented Australia at the 46th Venice Biennale in 1995. His photographic works have been exhibited extensively both locally and internationally over an incredible 45-year career. Henson’s seminal work is held in every major public collection in Australia and numerous important museum collections worldwide, including the Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA; Denver Art Museum, USA; Houston Museum of Fine Art, USA; Sammlung Volpinum, Vienna, Austria; Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK), Stifting Ludwig Wien, Vienna; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; Tate Collection, London; and the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York.