Bill Henson

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Bill Henson Essay by Chloe Byrne. Bill Henson is a very well known Australian photographer. His work has featured in many shows around the world and in Australia. His interesting technique of strong contrasts, subject matter and use of dark tones are common and readily associated with his work. Bill Henson’s work has created great controversy and has a massive impact on society. Bill Henson was born in 1955 in Melbourne, Victoria. This contemporary photographer has exhibited his work in many different locations from the National Gallery of Victoria to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Henson’s work has a number of significant attributes that are reflected in most of his pieces. His reflection and interest in ambiguity and transitions into his work. Dark tones and strong contrasting of light and dark are common in his work. Henson’s subject matter is mainly relationships, relationships between male and female, youth and adulthood, day and night, light and dark and natural and civilisation. The flattened perspective that occurs in his work gives it a sense and feel of abstraction. Henson has had a wide range of major exhibitions. In 1975 he had an exhibition at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), in 1981 in the Photographers Gallery in London, in 1989 his work featured in the Museum Moderner Kust Palais Liechtenstein, in 1990 Bibliotheque Nationale Paris, in 1993 Tel Aviv Museum of Art and in 2006 the Institute of modern art in Brisbane. Henson has had a successful career as a photographer and contemporary artist and his work is well known and respected. Bill Henson works in the medium of photography. Figures, people and landscapes are a major aspect in Henson’s work. Henson works with dark tones and strong light sources. In Henson’s untitled exhibition he does not try to capture time and space. This ambiguity of not allowing us any assurance of its place in time or space is a product of Henson’s technique in the dark room. Henson uses a method of hand agitation during print development that creates an uneven tone throughout the print. Henson’s use of light creates an eerie un-natural feeling to his work using heavy shadow contrasting with a strong light source. Henson’s early work (1974) echo’s great renaissance artists such as Vemer with the aspects and qualities of an oil painting. Henson’s latest work is working with the technique of ‘cut-screen’ where Henson cuts and then reforms the picture in a colarg type technique.

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