Raoul De Keyser
Current Museum Exhibition: oeuvre
2018
Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK), Ghent

September 22, 2018–January 20, 2019

Raoul De Keyser : oeuvre, organized by Senior Curator Martin Germann at S.M.A.K., Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, in Ghent, is the first major survey of the Belgian artist’s work since his passing in 2012. The exhibition encompasses over 120 paintings and more than 50 watercolors and drawings spanning De Keyser’s full career. A comprehensive catalogue includes texts by Martin Germann, Steven Jacobs, Luk Lambrecht, Bernhart Schwenk, and Philippe Van Cauteren, with artist contributions by Tomma Abts, Maria Eichhorn, Werner Feiersinger, Suzan Frecon, Mary Heilmann, Roland Jooris, Thomas Scheibitz, and James Welling.

Oeuvre seeks to explore the artist’s working process and his enduring experimentation with painting. Composed of basic but indefinable shapes and marks, his works often invoke spatial and figural illusions, though they remain elusive of any descriptive narrative. Reviewing the artist’s Whitechapel exhibition in Artforum in 2004, Barry Schwabsky wrote, "What makes De Keyser’s paintings so timely, so attractive to younger artists, may be their self-conscious vulnerability, their sense of unfoundedness and indifference to ‘the discourse.’"

Despite—or precisely because of—their sparse gesturing, De Keyser’s works convey a grandeur that inspires prolonged contemplation. Individually as well as collectively, his works revolve around the activity of painting, but also move beyond its physical means to become more than the sum of their parts. Their apparent simplicity belies a lengthy gestation period, which is guided largely by intuition rather than by following a preexisting plan. "Brain and heart crane to see over the shoulder of the eye," The New Yorker wrote in 2009, "when a willing viewer beholds De Keyser’s unassumingly perfect art."

Following its presentation in Ghent, the exhibition will travel to the Pinakothek der Moderne, Sammlung Moderne Kunst, in Munich, where it will be on view from April 5 through September 8, 2019.

From October 14–December 23, 2018, CC Strombeek in Belgium presents Raoul De Keyser in Print: Silkscreens, Lithographs, Linocuts, and Etchings, showcasing a lesser-known but integral part of the artist's ourvre.

Image: Raoul De Keyser, Gampelaere omgeving, 1967. Acrylic and dispersion paint on canvas, 47 1/4 × 59 inches (120 × 150 cm). Collection S.M.A.K., Ghent