From John Hollander's Essay "States of Mind," catalogue, The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA
Robert Birmelin's paintings of city street scenes are deeply marked by certain traditional and continuing urban concerns--matters of divisiveness, alienation and physical closeness that nonetheless accompany mental and emotional distance. Birmelin configures these notions in various kinds of disjunction, through such devices as agitated cropping and disruptions of scale, focus and virtual space, and even the very late-modern mode that might be called the urban picturesque.
      Many of these paintings evoke an extreme form of what William Wordsworth recorded in Book VII of The Prelude, as being so deeply disturbing about his first encounter with London: "the deafening din;/The comers and the goers face to face./Face after face...." There was for Wordsworth simply too much human presence to bear, to recognize as individuals.