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