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By Andrew Frost
Perversely perhaps, there are only two works in Cloudscapes at the Art Gallery of NSW that depict actual clouds. The remainder of the 14 prints from the gallery’s collection that make up the exhibition are rich with the Romantic atmosphere of Bill Henson’s best work. The exhibition includes prints from the Paris Opera Project of 1990/91 and the ‘Mahler’ series from 1976 and a series of works from various periods, including the including the bleak arcadia of car wrecks and naked bodies from 1991, interiors, landscapes and figure studies.
Henson’s work, so publicly overexposed in recent years for all the wrong reasons, maintains its high art aloofness, and that is it essential attraction: to enter the work is a singular experience, the tightly focused and underexposed frames become a world beyond this one, recognisable and related, but a discreet and poetic space. The works that do feature clouds are a respite from this dark world but even here only the setting sun faintly lights the clouds, chimerical apparitions among the treetops.
Until September 22
Art Gallery of NSW, The Domain
Pic: Bill Henson Untitled 2005/06. Type C photograph, 104 × 155 cm. Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors Program 2006 © Bill Henson
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