For nearly fifty years, Raoul De Keyser (1930-2012) created subtly evocative paintings and works on paper which appear at once straightforward and cryptic, abstract and figurative. Composed of basic but indefinable shapes and marks, his works often invoke spatial and figural illusions, though they remain elusive of any descriptive narrative. 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 pre-existing plan.
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 Freedom (2011), Terminus: Drawings (1979-1982) and Recent Paintings (2009), Recent Work (2006), Remnants (2003), and Come on, play it again (2001). On view March 18 through April 23, 2016, Drift marks the artist’s sixth solo show with the gallery at its West 20th Street location in New York. The show was first presented at David Zwirner in London (November 2015 – January 2016). Accompanying the exhibition is a fully illustrated catalogue published by David Zwirner Books, featuring new scholarship on the artist by art historian Ulrich Loock.
In 2018, a major retrospective of the artist’s work will be presented by the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent.
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 over the past decade 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); and the Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2015).
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; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent; among numerous others.