Important Australian + International Fine Art
28 August 2013


born 1936

oil on linen

122.0 x 183.0 cm

signed and dated lower right: William Robinson 2001

$150,000 - 200,000
Sold for $282,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 30 - 28 August 2013, Sydney

Australian Galleries, Melbourne (label attached verso)
Private collection, Melbourne


William Robinson: Recent Paintings, Australian Galleries, Sydney, 13 August – 7 September 2002; Melbourne, 24 September – 25 October 2002, cat. 66 (illus. in exhibition catalogue)

Catalogue text

Summer Landscape Numinbah depicts the bushland and creek in the Numinbah area of Queensland's Springbrook National Park. Springbrook has long been one of the artist's favourite destinations reappearing in his paintings throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Robinson first came to discover the remarkable landscape when he lived in the village of Beechmont at the edge of the Springbrook rainforest. Even after moving to the coastal town of Kingscliff, New South Wales in 1995, Robinson continued to visit the National Park, so awed was he by its serenity and its might.

Like most of Robinson's portrayals of Springbrook, our composition is not painted with a conventional linear perspective. There is no logical direction in which to orient our view. Instead, we are swept up in the mellifluous flow of the revolving, multi-dimensional panorama in which everything comes together and everything draws apart. Trees appear upside down in the skyline and the world curls around as if seen through a fish-eye lens. For Robinson, the purpose of this approach to composition is to immerse the viewer completely within the setting. He explains,'I do not like the landscape to be static like something held in a frame to be viewed as something quite apart... My intention is always to draw the observer into the picture.'1 Like much of the artist's work, the brevity of human life is here measured against and within the infinite possibilities of the natural world.

Summer Landscape Numinbah submerges the viewer completely in the minutiae and the compelling magnitude of the setting. Entwined, writhing trees protrude from every angle along the mountainside, their trunks charcoal black or bone white. The dark creek wends its way through the thick bushland. If we look closely within the dense green canopy we can glimpse a parrot, or maybe a cicada. Robinson evokes all the sensory experiences; the smells of the dense foliage, the dampness of the air, the peculiar bird calls. What we can't see of the rainforest and its inhabitants is suggested.

What makes our painting unique is the inclusion of a curious expanse of foliage at the centre of the composition which bears a striking resemblance to a pair of human lungs. Robinson has always been fascinated by the immense power of natural forces, the complex struggle between elements and the omnipotence of the natural world. Looking at this pair of leafy-green lungs we are reminded that this landscape is so far from a static thing. It is an ever-evolving place, a sanctuary of sorts, and we can almost hear the meditative sound of the mountains breathing.

1. Robinson, cited in Klepac, L. (ed.), William Robinson: Paintings 1987-2000, The Beagle Press, Sydney, 2001, p. 105