Shortly after graduating from art school in 1982, Robert was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Robert received chemotherapy treatments and recuperated at his parents’ home in Hantsport. For the next six months, Robert traveled back and forth between city and country. Hantsport served as a recovery centre, but it also reconnected Robert with rural life. Halifax was where Robert pursued his career.
The artist’s poor health limited his activities, as he turned inward to focus on his own experience. Views were painted from the windows of home and studio. Robert’s landscapes and cityscapes make use of his conceptual training to explore striking contrasts and clashes in values: modern office buildings encroach on historical structures, ancient landmarks endure through signs of seasonal change, industry co-exists with nature and town life.
The group exhibition, “Three Artists,” at the Eye Level Gallery in Halifax, featured Robert’s work along with that of two other recent NSCAD graduates. Each artist explored a different medium. Robert exhibited small watercolours and charcoal drawings, dictated in part by his health and temporary living arrangements. But these works also demonstrate a focusing of energies and a desire to excel at the basic techniques of his craft.