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Eternal Present: The Still Life paintings of William Robinson @ William Robinson Gallery, Old Government House

First published 14 July 2017

William Robinson is known as one of Australia's greatest landscapists, but from 2010 he has been mainly a painter of still life. Eternal present is the first survey of this important body of work. It brings together some 60 paintings, spanning a period from the early 1960s to today.

Guest curator for the exhibition is John McDonald, the Sydney Morning Herald art critic, who has been writing about Robinson's work for almost three decades. He explains: "The title, Eternal present, refers to the way a successful still life appears to make time stand still. A painted piece of fruit or a flower will never decay, the play of light on a vase will remain the same forever. It's an illusion, but a highly congenial one. We'd all like to be able to stop the clock."

Robinson began his career as a painter of still life and interiors, and these new paintings are a way of bringing his career full circle. They allow him to exercise his skill for composition, and to create small, private narratives through the choice and disposition of objects. The search for subject matter has turned him into a collector of objects—mainly bowls, jugs, plates and vases.These diverse, intelligent paintings add a new chapter to the history of the genre in Australia.