William Robinson / Australia b.1936 / Dark tide, Bogangar 1994 / Oil on canvas / Diptych: 185 x 446cm (overall) / Purchased 1995 with a special allocation from the Queensland Government. Celebrating the Queensland Art Gallery’s Centenary 1895–1995 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © William Robinson

William Robinson
Dark tide, Bogangar 1994

Not Currently on Display

Dark tide, Bogangar represents a shift in William Robinson’s focus from the subject of rainforests to that of seascapes, prompted by his move in 1994 to Kingscliff, a small seaside town in northern New South Wales.

Here, Robinson depicts a power in nature that in his earlier works appears less daunting. The shifting perspective created by planes that recede, tilt and plunge, reinforces the feeling of a vastness impossible to express or experience from a single, fixed viewpoint.

The scene records the multiplicity of nature’s moods through an entire day, which unfolds across the painting from left to right. The composition is simple, yet its formal qualities are complex. Tilting heavily to the right, the horizon seems to react to the rhythm of the waves. Both sea and sky are experienced without the support of any land.

Robinson’s idiosyncratic technique of painting all-encompassing panoramas in tiny, mosaic-like brushstrokes conveys both the vastness and the minute detail of the universe, frequently giving us the sense of it soaring above our heads.1


1. See Michael Beckmann, ‘Breathing in and breathing out: Dark tide, Bogangar‘, in Darkness and Light: The Art of William Robinson, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2001, pp.134–5.

William Robinson was born in 1936 in suburban Brisbane. As a young man he was interested in art and music, and in 1954 trained as a primary school teacher at the Queensland Teachers’ College. He was subsequently awarded a scholarship to Brisbane’s Central Technical College (now the Queensland University of Technology), where he studied art from 1955 to 1956. Although he did not make a career of music, it has remained an important part of his life and music was integral to his painting practice. After completing his studies, Robinson began a long career as an arts educator in 1957, including running the painting department at the Brisbane College of Advanced Education (now the Queensland University of Technology) from 1982 until 1989.

In 1984, Robinson moved his family to a large farm at Beechmont in the mountainous Gold Coast hinterland, a region of immense natural beauty. The move gave rise to a new body of work, marking a personal breakthrough in his career and inspiring him to explore new artistic territory. He began to work on a much larger scale and painted panoramas of the sky, mountains, rainforests and water, exploring the landscape as a powerful, emotive force.