Raoul De Keyser's (1930-2012) subtly evocative paintings are at once straightforward and cryptic, abstract and figurative. Made up of simple shapes and marks, they invoke spatial and figural allusions, yet remain elusive of any descriptive narrative. Despite—or precisely because of—their spare compositions, De Keyser's works convey a visual intensity that inspires prolonged contemplation. Individually as well as collectively, they revolve around the activity of painting, but also move beyond its physical means to become more than the sum of their parts.
De Keyser was born in 1930 in Deinze, Belgium. Since 1999, his work has been represented by David Zwirner. Previous solo exhibitions at the gallery in New York include Come on, play it again (2001); Remnants (2003); Recent Work (2006); Terminus: Drawings (1979-1982) and Recent Paintings (2009); Freedom (2011); and Drift (2016), which was first on view at David Zwirner, London.
Since the mid-1960s, the artist’s work has been the subject of several solo exhibitions at prominent institutions. In 2000, a large-scale retrospective was presented at The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, which traveled to the Goldie Paley Gallery, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, and The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. A major survey of the artist’s paintings traveled extensively from 2004 through 2005 to the Whitechapel Gallery, London; Musée de Rochechouart, France; De Pont Museum for Contemporary Art, Tilburg, The Netherlands; Museu de Serralves, Porto, Portugal; and the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland. In 2009, his paintings were exhibited in a retrospective at the Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany and his watercolors were presented jointly at the Museu de Serralves, Porto, Portugal and the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin.
Other venues that have hosted important solo exhibitions include the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent (2001); Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium (2002); Museum van Deinze en de Leiestreek, Deinze, Belgium (2007 and 2013); Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2008); De Loketten, Flemish Parliament, Brussels (2011); the Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2015); and Museum van Deinze en de Leiestreek, Deinze, Belgium (2017).
In 2018, a major retrospective of the artist’s work opened at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent and traveled to Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, where it is on view through September 8, 2019. Also in 2018, Cultuurcentrum Strombeek Grimbergen, Belgium presented Raoul De Keyser: In Print. Zeefdrukken, Lithografieën, Linosneden, Etsen.
Work by the artist is held in permanent collections worldwide, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Antwerp; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent.