Raoul De Keyser - Artworks & Biography | David Zwirner

Raoul De Keyser

A detail from a painting by Raoul De Keyser, titled Passage, dated 2010.

Raoul De Keyser, Passage, 2010 (detail)

January 15–March 6, 2021

David Zwirner is pleased to present Raoul De Keyser, on view at the gallery’s Hong Kong location. The first solo show of the artist’s work in Greater China, the exhibition will feature paintings from the last twenty-five years of De Keyser’s five-decade career, illustrating his intuitive—yet rigorous—facility with his medium. Complementing the presentation in Hong Kong will be an online exhibition, New Visions: After De Keyser, that situates the late Belgian painter in dialogue with contemporary painters whose art continues to relate to or be informed by his pioneering compositions. 

Raoul De Keyser

Installation view of the exhibition Raoul De Keyser in Print: Silkscreens, Lithographs, Linocuts, and Etchings at CC Strombeek in Grimbergen, Belgium, dated 2018

October 24–December 22, 2018

CC Strombeek in Belgium presented Raoul De Keyser in Print: Silkscreens, Lithographs, Linocuts, and Etchings, showcasing a lesser-known but integral part of the artist’s practice. In addition to creating evocative paintings and works on paper, De Keyser experimented with printing techniques over four decades. On view are forty-five works that not only reflect the formal and thematic evolution of De Keyser’s practice but also can be ordered more or less chronologically based on their techniques, which include silkscreens, lithographs, linocuts, and etchings.

De Keyser began making silkscreens in the late 1960s, at a moment when many artist were experimenting with printmaking in Europe and the United States. His first print was a silkscreen on cardboard: the box for Een verpakte gedachte (1967), a set of eleven poems by Roland Jooris (who would become a frequent collaborator) printed on cardboard sheets. De Keyser sent fragments of this work as postcards to friends. In the early 1970s, he shifted his focus to lithographs and started working more closely with the printers throughout the process to explore the different possibilities of various techniques. He primarily made linocuts during the 1980s and early 1990s. Later, he returned to silkscreen printing and made the only etching of his career, the beautifully sparse grid of Untitled (2004), over which he painted watercolor. The artist’s intuitive approach to painting is also apparent in his print works, which he sometimes rendered as unique pieces by intervening manually with watercolor. 

Raoul De Keyser in Print was co-curated by the art historian Steven Jacobs and Wouter De Vleeschouwer, whose graduate thesis focused on De Keyser’s prints and who also worked on the first posthumous survey of the artist’s oeuvre—an exhibition of over 120 paintings and more than 50 watercolors and drawings at S.M.A.K., Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, in Ghent (on view through January 27, 2019). The exhibition at CC Strombeek is accompanied by a catalogue written by Jacobs and De Vleeschouwer, with an essay and a catalogue raisonné of De Keyser’s prints.

Image: Installation view, Raoul De Keyser in Print: Silkscreens, Lithographs, Linocuts, and Etchings, CC Strombeek, Grimbergen, Belgium, 2018. Photo by Dirk Pauwels

An acrylic and dispersion paint on canvas painting by Raoul De Keyser, titled Gampelaere omgeving, dated 1967.

April 5–September 8, 2019

Raoul De Keyser : oeuvre, organized by Senior Curator Martin Germann at S.M.A.K., Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, in Ghent, where the show was first presented in 2018, is the first major survey of the Belgian artist’s work since his passing in 2012. Opening at Pinakothek der Moderne, Sammlung Moderne Kunst in Munich on April 4, 2019, the show encompasses some one hundred paintings and more than fifty 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."

Image: Raoul De Keyser, Gampelaere omgeving, 1967

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