White cane
Silent protest
24 variations on a theme by Paganini

Born Cooma, New South Wales, Australia 1957


A self taught artist, Robert Clinch uses a realist style to create imaginary yet believable cityscapes inspired by Melbourne. Clinch finds romance and theatrical drama in the man-made forms of urban life: the symmetry of city architecture, the rhythm of skylines juxtaposing modern skyscrapers with structures of bygone eras, the brickwork lining dingy laneways, and the façades of derelict warehouses and apartment blocks.

In 24 variations on a theme by Paganini, Clinch uses Niccolo Paganini’s (1782–1840) compositional repertoire as the basis for his painting, explaining: ‘The twenty-four window openings have all evolved separate personalities while still sharing the same obvious parentage. Each of the three floors, like the three movements typical of a concerto for violin and orchestra, has its own variation of the polychromic brickwork. And the brickwork itself, typical of Victorian Melbourne, exudes virtuosic Italianate craftsmanship; a reference to Paganini’s own birthplace. The solitary figure of the female violinist playing the caprice to herself at the window is a lyrical counterpoint to the very masculine architecture. The horizontal lines in the brickwork echo the lines of the musical staff, and the air conditioning units, the opened windows and the violinist herself are like notes at various intervals.’1

Clinch has twice won the Wynne Trustees Watercolour Prize and the Martin Bequest Travelling Scholarship. In 2007 a survey exhibition of his work titled Urban Myths toured Victorian regional galleries.


1 Robert Clinch 2008 in a statement to Katie Furlonger.