"Robert Hamilton retired to Port Clyde, Maine in 1981, after thirty four years of teaching at Rhode Island School of Design. His idiosyncratic paintings are variously inhabited by anonymous figures including tennis players, masked bandits who double as train conductors, museum guards, circus performers, military heroes, fellow artists, fighter pilots, opera singers and a menagerie of lions, tigers, and ‘Oh, my!’ characters snatched from dreams and free-floating, unbounded imagination. Within his dimly lit museum (a small octagonal room with clerestory admitting natural light), and like his cave painter ancestors, Hamilton conjured visions of what sustained him, fed his soul, a true shaman of magically real and deeply felt contemporary art.
The jazz in Hamilton’s work—chromatic keys changes, compositional syncopation, riffs on favorite paintings and artists, like melodies to recall and “sample,” dissonance resolving as formal design—is always built on personal association and literally grounded in the act of painting. The process of “playing” and play was the essence of his and all of the art and artists that mattered most to him.
Not surprising to friends, he wrote his own obituary where Hamilton tells us what and why he painted: 'I knew my paintings had to be improvised, spontaneous, made up out of whole cloth, one thing leading to another, accidental, a series of metamorphoses, surprised arrivals.’ ”
- Chris Crosman