In his youth, Scholte lived in Castricum, Doorn, Heiloo and Egmond aan den Hoef. At 17, he left his parents’ home through the attic window.
From 1977 to 1982, he studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. After that he was part of the artist collective, among others W139, where he debuted with Sandra Derks in 1982 with the “masterpiece” Rom 87 (now in the collection of the National Cultural Heritage Agency, on loan to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen), a series of free-style painted variations on a book of children’s coloring pages. He would replace this style with meticulously painted works that he began exhibiting in 1984 at the newly established gallery The Living Room in Amsterdam.
In 1986 he caused a stir with the painting, Utopia (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen), in which Manet’ s
was quoted. However, he had replaced Olympia and her servant with wooden dolls. As it turned out, he did not come up with this idea himself, but borrowed it from an obscure, accidentally found, postcard. Scholte responded by copying the newspaper article in which he was accused of plagiarism, a verbatim quote of half a newspaper page.
With How to Star, a solo exhibition at Boijmans Van Beuningen, paintings from 1983-1988, Scholte received both praise and criticism. Works by Scholte were shown at the documenta in 1987 and in 1990 he was allowed to decorate the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Also in 1991, the Rob Scholte BV won the commission for a 1,200-square-meter wall and ceiling painting at the Huis Ten Bosch Resort in Nagasaki, Japan. Scholte worked with numerous assistants on the painting titled Après nous le déluge, about the constant repetition of war in history. Its opening was supposed to take place on Aug. 9, 1995, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, but had to be postponed because of an attack on Scholte.