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Robert Besanko

(Australia 1951 – )

Untitled (seated woman in skirt)
Media category
Materials used
gelatin silver photograph on Kodalith paper

21.3 x 31.8 cm image; 28.1 x 35.6 cm sheet

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased 1979
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Robert Besanko's essential isolation as an artist has led to the evolution of a personal and poetic vision. One can sense in his fascination with simplified forms and composition a distinct shift away from realism towards something other-worldly - an effect accentuated by the subtle textural quality of the now obsolete Kodalith paper he used in the printing process.

Besanko's highly-aestheticised images of women are typical of his work from the 1970-80s. While they are sensual and sensitive studies, a strange and intentional spatial ambiguity implicates the viewer within the photographic act. The artist has suggested in an interview that:

'you are aware of what the image can become when you look at the subject. The signature is the lyrical line - the otherness - and the intimacy. I strive for the essence… but more as well. The eroticism is the humanity, if you do not deny it.' (The Age, 2 August 1988)

Bibliography (3)

Judy Annear, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Magical realism', pg.226-245, Sydney, 2007, 235 (illus.).

Judy Annear, What is this thing called photography?, Sydney, 1999. no catalogue numbers

Gael Newtown, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Photography - Australian, European and American', pg. 67-84, Sydney, 1981, 72. 11

Exhibition history (3)

Three years on: acquisitions 1978-81, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1981–01 Dec 1981

What is this thing called photography?, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Jun 1999–29 Jul 1999

Magical realism, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 Feb 2006–02 Apr 2006