amsterdam

Rob Birza, Shifting Systems III, 2011, egg tempera on canvas, 70 7/8 x 78 3/4".

Rob Birza

Willem Baars Projects

Rob Birza, Shifting Systems III, 2011, egg tempera on canvas, 70 7/8 x 78 3/4".

It might have taken a moment to realize what Rob Birza’s exhibition “Shifting Systems” reminded you of: Tintin’s Inca adventure in the Temple of the Sun. You went through a door and suddenly you were surrounded by paintings and objects that seemed to come from another culture, almost another universe, bristling with signs and symbols—maps, diagrams, mandalas?—that invited you to puzzle out their meaning, to discover an underlying system. But no matter how hard you tried, you hit a wall. It was hopeless. You were left with ambivalence; the pleasures of form and color ought to have been enough to let you enjoy the show, but you couldn’t shake the uneasy sense that some hidden meaning was lying in wait for you. You wanted to crack the code.

For years, Birza has been recognized as one of the great talents in Dutch painting. He used to change his style radically every two

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