Rob Birza

Geldrop NL 1962, lives and works in Amsterdam

The work of Rob Birza is baroque and impudent. Birza is a stylistic anarchist, who never rules out anything in advance or allows a single technique to escape his consideration. He produces paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, stage sets, ceramic objects – practically everything. Though not weaned from an occasional hint of sentiment , his work is characterized by irony and relativism. Birza takes pleasure in toying subversively with painterly values and norms, while paying little heed to the rules established by modernist art. Each of his paintings stands for a ‘condensation of energy’, as he calls it. Various impressions and experiences are rolled up into one image. His motifs come from anywhere and everywhere. Birza keeps his eyes peeled – in the museum, out on the street, while traveling. The flea market is, to him, the place where culture is sold out, where worthless junk and priceless objects stand side by side in fraternity. Many of the things that he buys there, from a beautiful sixties ceiling lamp to unsightly nut dishes and other knickknacks, serve as material for new works. His studio is packed with such bric-a-brac.

The work with which Birza made his debut during the mid eighties mainly consists of large paintings in subdued colors, the paint having been applied thinly and in quasi-nonchalant gestures. The repertoire of visual means quickly expanded. Scraps of carpeting, hubcaps, blinkers, bucket seats, bath mats began to appear on the canvas. The objects effortlessly comply with rhythmic compositions of moving forms and blazing colors. 

Birza’s capricious oeuvre is full of paradoxes: order being chaos, the spiritual being sensual, the sublime being banal. His work thrives on an unconventional sampling of styles, materials and techniques that are used for temptation and deceit, destruction and creation, denial and affirmation. Anything that his work suggests is made transparent in the work itself. Birza operates like a magician who confides the secret of the trick to the very audience whom he fools. That makes his work not only challenging, but also appealing and generous.