Important Australian + International Fine Art
3 May 2023


born 1936

oil on linen

51.0 x 66.0 cm

signed and dated lower left: William Robinson 2004
bears inscription on backing board verso: SUN AND LIGHT RAIN NUMINBAH

$40,000 – $60,000
Sold for $49,091 (inc. BP) in Auction 74 - 3 May 2023, Melbourne

Australian Galleries, Sydney (label attached verso)
Private collection, New South Wales, acquired from the above in 2005


William Robinson, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, 21 – 29 May 2005; Sydney, 14 June – 2 July 2005, cat. 19 (illus. in exhibition catalogue, p. 51)

Catalogue text

In relation to a sense of place, William Robinson has made a unique contribution to the Australian landscape tradition, moving beyond conventional notions to encompass a fluctuating environment; of rainforest and ocean, ground and sky, day and night, elemental forces of wind, lightning, rain and fire. His multidimensional grasp of time and space also suggests metaphors for states of mind and being, life and death, continuity and transcendence. The profound spiritual resonances in Robinson’s art remind us of the need to preserve an ancient natural world in the present; ‘to keep the faith’, as Simon Schama wrote in Landscape and Memory, ‘with a future on this tough, lovely old planet’.1

Robinson’s treatment of the horizon and distorted perspective set him apart from his contemporaries. While many Australian landscape painters traditionally looked towards the arid interior for inspiration, he embraces the lush south-eastern Queensland mountain ranges. The dramatic features of the granite belt, with its soaring cliffs, meandering rivers, creeks and waterfalls, offer the perfect subject for Robinson to flaunt his painterly innovations.

The steep ravines, high annual rainfall and proximity to the coast combine to provide dramatic weather shifts, which Robinson exploits wilfully. As the title of Sun and Light Rain, Numinbah, 2004 suggests, it is the ephemeral beauty of this landscape which captivates the artist. He gives equal weight to the physical grandeur of the ancient forms, as he does to the intangible elements of light, mist, mood and atmosphere.

In the act of painting there is a tipping point where the image takes over and a seamless synergy occurs between the artist, their materials and subject. The artist becomes the vehicle for the work and almost takes a backseat as the painting evolves in inspired revelation. Artists sometimes refer to a work as ‘painting itself’ when describing this shaman-like relationship between the artist and subject. Robinson arrives at this point early and you can feel the urgency his works attain as they reach toward a higher state of observation and translation. Each new painting builds on the achievements of the previous one as he pushes the boundaries of his artistic abilities and the conventions of landscape painting.

This state of oneness with his work is achieved by continuous immersion in the act of creation and Robinson typically works every day, all day – except Sundays. God rested on the sabbath and so does Robbo, reserving this day for reflection and music in humble observance of the Maker’s achievements. The artist is a deeply spiritual man and his paintings are to be viewed as a personal homage to his creator. The current example conveys this more than others, the central image of painting is the sunrise to the east, which may be considered as the first of its kind. Like the renaissance masters Robinson so much admires, he looks to the heavens for the essence of his inspiration.

1. Hart, D., ‘William Robinson’s artistic development: An intimate and expansive journey’ in William Robinson, A Transfigured Landscape, Queensland University of Technology and Piper Press, Brisbane, 2011, p. 38