Raoul De Keyser Oever, 2005 Oil on canvas on wood, 18 x 15.5 cm © Family Raoul De Keyser | SABAM Belgium 2018. © Family Raoul De Keyser | SABAM Belgium 2018 Collection of Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photo credit: Jens Ziehe. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp & David Zwirner.
Raoul De Keyser (1930-2012, Deinze) is viewed as the discrete master among the Belgian painters of the last fifty years. As from his debut in 1964 De Keyser developed unique tactile work in which the distinction between the figurative and the abstract dissolved in its poetic alliance with the painter’s everyday life. His artistic practice emerged from the Nieuwe Visie, a local variant of international Pop Art that was also influenced by literature.
Raoul De Keyser Angouleme, 1994 Oil on canvas, 55×31,5cm Collection S.M.A.K.: long-term loan of the Collection of the Flemish Community Photo credit: Dirk Pauwels © Family Raoul De Keyser | SABAM Belgium 2018
Following his experiments with the fundamental elements of painting, including color, paint and canvas, that were so typical of the 1970s, De Keyser’s visual idiom opened up and became more fluent. This signaled the start of a steady growth in international success, one of the highlights being his participation in Documenta IX in 1992. The artist frequently painted over earlier work or revived it in different formats. This game of looking both back and forward is also apparent in his final works. The title of the exhibition is an indication that in a certain sense each of De Keyser’s works includes the notion of a retrospective.
Left: Raoul De Keyser, Correctie, 1973-1982 / Right: Grenier 14, 1992 Oil on canvas, 82x67cm Collection S.M.A.K.: long-term loan of the Collection of the Flemish Community Photo credit: Dirk Pauwels © Family Raoul De Keyser | SABAM Belgium 2018
Left: Raoul De Keyser, Siesta, 2000, Oil on canvas, 188 x 140 cm, © Family Raoul De Keyser | SABAM Belgium 2018 Collection of Hauser & Wirth, Switzerland Photo credit: Kristien Daem / Right: To Walk, 2012 Oil, gesso and wasco on canvas on wood 28 x 21 cm Private collection Photo: Jens Ziehe © Family Raoul De Keyser | SABAM Belgium 2018
By unfolding De Keyser’s work both chronologically and thematically, oeuvre offers an insight into the artist’s method and his lifelong exploration of the boundaries of painting. In addition to more than a hundred paintings, a major ensemble of works on paper can also be seen; this is part of the gift the artist made to the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent in 2008.
The setting in the middle room on the first floor was designed by the architects Robbrecht and Daem, who have previously created several exhibition spaces for De Keyser’s work (e.g. Documenta IX).
Raoul De Keyser Hellepoort 7, 1985 Oil on canvas, 50x40cm Collection S.M.A.K. Photo credit: Dirk Pauwels © Family Raoul De Keyser | SABAM Belgium 2018
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive catalogue, published by S.M.A.K. and Pinakothek der Moderne in association with Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Koenig (Cologne) and Mercatorfonds (Brussels). This richly illustrated book contains the first comprehensive chronology of the artist’s life and work which was created in collaboration with the Archives Raoul De Keyser at Ghent University.
Raoul De Keyser Zinkend (Luc), 1982/1983 Oil on canvas, 62 x 54 cm Private collection Photo credit: Hilde D’haeyere © Family Raoul De Keyser | SABAM Belgium 2018
Belgian art historian Koen Brams will present a wide-ranging film program of television and film excerpts on the art and life of Raoul De Keyser.
Lastly, there will be an extensive series of talks including conversations between the curators of the two exhibitions, Martin Germann and Bernhart Schwenk. Erik Rinckhout, Bernard Dewulf and Steven Jacobs will also give talks and/or guided tours.
This exhibition is a joint project with the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.