ROBERT E. ROBERTS


Donated by Wade Hampton

The Tightrope

Acrylic on board

14” x 28”

Retail Value: $900

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I was born and raised in Arizona. After earning a Master’s Degree in Piano and Composition in 1974, I continued studies in music composition with the legendary Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, France. Deciding not to pursue doctoral studies, I moved to San Francisco in 1979, taking on a variety of jobs.

A self-taught artist, I have, since my early teens, explored a wide variety of art media as well as oil painting, including hand weaving, tapestry design, woodcut, calligraphy and egg tempera, to cite just a few. For more than twenty years, I worked as a tattoo artist. I was one of 80 tattoo artists whose work was included in the 1995 New York exhibition “Pierced Hearts and True Love: A Century of Drawings for Tattoos”, curated by Don Ed Hardy.

In 2005, I decided to focus on oil painting, to see where I could go with it.

The human form, and human introspection, are things that consistently intrigue me. The human form is endless in its variety and range of expression. The inward, introspective view is compelling because it is a reflection of the soul. Most of my figures are solitary. Ultimately, we are alone, and it is only in solitude that we can discover our personal niche in the universe.

Initially, I painted objects. Now I try to paint ideas. Three things that influence me are:

  1. Religion, even though I’m technically not religious. Maybe spirituality is a better word.
  2. Symbolism, often in the form of Jungian archetypes.
  3. Simple astonishment that anything exists at all.

From my grandfather, I learned to value ideals of craftsmanship. Using a glass slab and muller, I make most of my own paints, frequently employing historic pigments not available from commercial paint manufacturers. I work slowly and carefully, layer upon layer. Because any work of art is only as good as the materials that go into making it, I’m equally attentive to the quality of the painting support, whether canvas or panel.

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