Rob Scholte

Galerie 't Venster

It pleases me that Rob Scholte’s new work is countering the so-called “wild painting:’Although until recently he made work related to ”wild painting“ he is currently very clear in his rejection of what he now sees as the most degenerate art of the last decade. In the past few years he has been developing successfully a style of painting that truly offers an alternative to the impulsive, semiexpressionistic work of his contemporaries. Scholte’s departure from this emotional style of painting has been gradual. It settled finally on the production of a painting in 64 parts, Rom 87, 1983, which correlated to an equal number of pages in a child’s coloring book. The intention was clear: ”wild painting“ had been relegated to the nursery. The most striking aspect of the work, however, was that it imparted a sharp conceptual undertone to a truly convincing kind of naive painting. Although the work was done in collaboration with his colleague Sandra Derks, this unusual way of breaking with the ”wild painting" school was obviously Scholte’s contribution. The frivolous and fairylike accentuations that coalesce in a collage of figurative and patternlike elements remain characteristic of his work. The crowded metamorphic shapes, figures, and objects, like the last twitches of a surviving fashion, always appear in his work. Horses, clown faces, all kinds of star shapes, fairy palaces, robots, faces of girls—all these elements were not only a conclusion but had programmatic value for future works.

Lately the ideas behind Scholte’s more conceptual/figurative style have been inspired by Magritte- and Duchamp. Especially when he concentrates on clichéd images (as in Nachtlicht (Nightlight, 1984), in which black light shines from a desk lamp and is surrounded by the logo of the Philips light bulb factory), Scholte is able to turn an image inside out with razor sharpness, and to reach the point where the clichés touch on their origins and can summon up new associations. Avoiding frivolous or thoughtless use of figurative elements, the artist develops his themes and motives in a very personal way, relying upon naive/intelligent choice.

As an adage for his painting Scholte uses a variation on the phrase of the 19th-century French poet Lautréamont’s about the “chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissection table” In a noticeable love/hate relationship with the mass media, Scholte borrows material from the large number of images that circulate daily under the motto, "a decayed mermaid next to a bird who flies backward into a milk bottle. He uses the media for inspiration, at the same time suppressing the images and subjecting them to his own always varying style, in which there is only one constant: his work is always connected to Dutch traditions that find their expression in a longing for craftsmanship. This longing is legitimate, but the danger is always that it can block anartist’s spontaneity. The theological basis of much of Dutch painting, which Scholte, fortunately, has been able to avoid, could.creep into his work through this longing. As long as Scholte does not subject his personal characteristics to such scruples, which have soured a lot of Holland’s art, we can expect Much good work from him.

Paul Groot

Translated from the Dutch by Carolien Stikker.