San Francisco

Frank Hamilton

Bolles Gallery

Hamilton came into painting by way of ceramics and sculpture, which may account for his preference for isolated shapes on a large open ground (bowls on a table). The smaller, earlier works, really stains of saturated color, lack the strength one would expect from the hand of a sculptor.

Toughening texture without brutalizing surface, often the concern of a potter turned painter and conscious of honest use of materials, he began, in 1961, on a series of works identified by the word “Olema.” His show consists mainly of this series. It begins with Olema Blue, a cobra-shaped exploding line on a background of raw linen with enough geometric pattern to assure unity with pictures to follow. Subsequently he has used white canvas, which, clean and bright, has its own vibrations to support the colors and shapes it hosts.

Simple though this seems, Hamilton’s superb sense of scale and color animates every detail. Much of what he is attempting, a marriage of hard-edge geometrics and free-floating shapes of low surface tension, has been previously explored by Hofmann and DuCasse, under both of whom he has studied. But his splashes and sweeps of color, full-strength and at times reminiscent of Kline, strike the eye with a contagious immediacy.

E. M. Polley