Rob Scholte is considered a visual fetishist because he collects every image and every photo that interests him in a kind of idea archive. The Dutch artist began experimenting so excessively with the meaning of images as an art student at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam that his professors then prophesized a great career. His first solo exhibition in 1984 at The Living Room gallery in Amsterdam was celebrated by critics for the invariable talent on display, as even these early images captivated viewers with their finely composed play with the meanings of images and their way of dismantling typical modes of seeing. Scholte’s 1988 Self-portrait is a typical example of the tricks and deceptions he employed: here the purposefully missing portrait has been replaced by a yellow copyright symbol before a red background.
Scholte’s work has enjoyed international acclaim since he took part in documenta 8, when his “picture-in-picture satire” of Edvard Munch’s The Scream caused an uproar. He painted a tin clown that was in turn drawing the original The Scream, an ironic commentary on the role of the artist.
Scholte borrows from his “optical archive” as necessary and now digitally combines findings from magazines with ironic twists, for example “Disney is art, so why shouldn’t art also be Disney?” or “Art is to change what you expect from it,” which graces the montage image of a bank’s façade. His commentary on the interchangeability of objects and values is both precise and eye opening.
In 1990 he represented the Netherlands at their pavilion at the Venice Biennale. His largest painting as of yet he created with a war image from Nagasaki; it now hangs in the reconstructed Palace Residence of the Netherlands.
Even after the attempted murder of Scholte in 1994, a bomb attack that left him wheelchair bound, he maintains his exuberant desire to play with the meanings of images, be they images he paints or digitally remasters. His font of ideas is essentially inexhaustible.