I relate to Bill Henson’s work maybe a little too well. His work is almost magnetic to my subconscious mind and in being able to reach that could be considered dangerous. My mind was considered a very dark place for a long time and like many artists depression is a well-known friend of mine. A particular picture of his that I become entranced in is Untitled #27 2007/08 Bill Henson
The minimalist approach to a lot of his works is characteristic of a coping technique taught to depressed teenagers. The aim is to teach the patient to see more positive things around them and less negative things. In this exercise you are to take a walk and only allow your eyes to travel between positive things. You simply ignore the negative things around you. Trust me this is not as easy as it seems.
Henson’s work takes the theory from the above mentioned coping technique into the artistic world by concealing the possible negative aspects or undesirable aspects of his pictures in black. The parts revealed are not violent and almost harmonious in their own rights. There is a serene sense of juxtaposition within his pictures. The color schemes used often convince the viewer that a darker sinister thing is brewing in the shadows but his image it’s self is calm and never violent to my knowledge. Quite often this dark color scheme is coupled with an intimate moment between people.
I love the way his images portray almost a painterly quality to them. The stronger and almost primal way the light dances on his subjects is hard to describe but can be likened to chiaroscuro technique used by painters and drawers in the early renaissance period. (14th – 17th centuries) This technique in crux is simply put to be a small hole made into a piece of paper or cloth to project an upside down picture onto a canvas that the artist would trace the lines and shadows to portray a near life image.
I have dabbled in a lot art based things during school and even outside of school. Up until I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in my mid 20’s I was very partial to having a pencil and sketch pad close to me. This is a part of my life that I can’t escape from and nor would I want to.
So how could someone like me be comparing my own images to this great legend? I simply can’t begin to compare my work to the depth Henson places into his but I can become inspired by it and this I do. His lines and minimalist approach is amazing while his clashing emotions leave you coming back for more. All your mind is doing when you look at his work is looking for the next part of the puzzle. Looking for what your mind thinks it has missed.
So the question is now what did you miss? The answer is most likely nothing at all. But can you be sure? Why not have another look just to be certain?
How many times did you go back to that image? Three, maybe four? This is what I love about Henson. His way of implying that there is more there if you look again a little deeper.