Four Seasons and Jimmy's Billabong

Four Seasons (1987), by William Robinson, and Jimmy's Billabong (1988), by Lin Onus, are two remarkably contrasting artworks, however, they are surprisingly similar in that they both represent the Australian landscape.

Four Seasons, a captivating piece by William Robinson constructed using four different panels of oil on canvas, illustrates the seasonal changes as well as different times of the day through a number of perspectives. The artwork takes the viewers on a journey through the landscape, beginning at dawn in the first panel of the painting, and continuing through to sunset in the last. Inspired by the natural environment surrounding the artist, Four Seasons is based on the eucalypt and subtropical rainforest growing on Robinson's Beechmont property, in the Canungra region of the Gold Coast hinterland. Contrarily, Jimmy's Billabong, by Lin Onus, provides a considerably more realistic and proportional view of the Australian Landscape. Having an indigenous heritage, Onus' painting explore his cross-cultural background, a sense of social justice and a spiritual understanding of place and country, such is the case in Jimmy's Billabong. Onus depicts a tranquil and light-filled landscape that evokes the innate connection of his people to the land through the accomplished use of indigenous techniques.

Both artworks consist of an accomplished use of the art elements, design principles, art materials and creative processes. In Four Seasons, the use of organic shapes, the subtle blending of muted tones along with the steady progression of light to dark combine to create an abstract effect. On the other hand, Jimmy's Billabong incorporates a number of indigenous techniques to reflect the artist's backstory. In particular, Onus has overlaid the Australian billabong using the traditional ‘rarrk' (cross-hatching) dot pattern in a photorealist mode.

Furthermore, each artist successfully manipulates their choice of media to communicate meaning and emotion. William Robinson's Four Seasons combines panoramas of the sky, mountains, rainforests and water, exploring the landscape as a powerful emotive force. Through the use of multiple perspectives, including looking up, down and to the side, Robinson creates the ‘feeling of being in a place and having many sensations at once' (William Robinson). Contrarily, in Jimmy's Billabong, Lin Onus subtly communicates the indigenous connection to the land. Onus paints the billabong itself, including the trees and the water, using Western art techniques that emphasise depth and atmosphere. However, he combines traditional rarrk patterns in red, yellow and white over the landscape, as if to indigenise the area and reclaim custodianship of the land, symbolising the connection between the land and his people.

Overall, both Four Seasons and Jimmy's Billabong are beautiful pieces of art, each representing the Australian landscape. However, they are both unique in how they portray and communicate this subject.


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