Robert Hamblin (1969) is a multidisciplinary artist, parent and queer activist born in Johannesburg South Africa. He lives and works in Cape Town. Hamblin’s art has been exhibited locally and internationally.
Issues of queer masculinity is visited in his paintings, photography and collaborative performances.
Robert - A Queer and Crooked, his recently published memoir, speaks to his coming of age as a queer woman in Apartheid era South Africa. The story follows him to his transition from female to male in his thirties.
Photojournalism in his twenties, theatre photographer in his thirties and organisational work in his forties was Robert’s learning school. Throughout three decades he also built a fine art career under the guidance of his mentor, abstract painter Nel Erasmus.
Erasmus, now 94 years old is an alumni of 1952 Académie Ranson in Paris. She continually encouraged him to abandon photography in favour of the freedom of paint. This persuasion took two decades only materialising in 2020.
Before 2020 he produced several bodies of fine art photography. The seven year project, interseXion, a collaboration with black transgender sex workers, culminated in a large solo exhibition at The Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town.
Since then he has been painting and exhibiting regularly, including a recent two-person exhibition in Italy with artist Zanele Muholi which closed in October 2022.
“The characters in my paintings are self-portraits, alter egos and celebrations of queer people. I depict them and myself as super heroes or mythological creatures who embody their bruising as their power and ironic beauty.”