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Raoul De Keyser: Terminus: Drawings (1979-1982) and Recent Paintings    Sep 10 - Oct 24, 2009


David Zwirner is pleased to present Terminus: Drawings (1979-1982) and Recent Paintings, Raoul De Keyser’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. In January 2010, Steidl/David Zwirner will publish a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue with a text by Robert Storr.

Currently on view until October 18th, Replay: Paintings 1964-2007 at Kunstmuseum Bonn is the first comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work in Germany. Comprised of 50 works spanning over 40 years, this extensive exhibition brings together loans from museums and private owners in Europe and America. Also on view, until September 20th, is an exhibition at the Museum voor Schone Kunsten/Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium. Last year, De Keyser donated 187 works on paper (made from 1964 to 1979) to the museum, and this exhibition displays the entire gift. This extraordinary collection illustrates the artist’s evolution from figurative work to the abstract compositions for which he is now known.

Featured at David Zwirner are 50 works, made up of two complementary bodies of work: drawings (various works on paper) and paintings. Created from 1979 to 1982, the drawings – made on different types of paper and in diverse media, including pencil, ink, watercolor, acrylic, and oil chalk – continue the lineage of the work currently on view in Ghent. The paintings, made from 2000 to 2009, include such seminal works as Across (2000/2009), Drift (2008), and Complex (2009).

De Keyser was included in the 2007 Venice Biennale, curated by Robert Storr, and recent solo exhibitions include Museum van Deinze en de Leiestreek, Deinze, Belgium (2007) and FRAC Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2008). In 2009, both Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal and Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland exhibited the artits’s watercolors. From 2004 to 2005, De Keyser was the subject of a major solo retrospective exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England, which traveled to Musée de Rochechouart, Rochechouart, France; De Pont Museum for Contemporary Art, Tilburg, The Netherlands; Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal; and Kunstverein St. Gallen Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland. Other important solo exhibitions include S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium (2001); The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (2000); and Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern, Switzerland (1999). De Keyser’s work is held in major public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe.

Born in 1930 in Deinze, Belgium (where he still lives), Raoul De Keyser is one of Europe’s leading painters, yet only over the past two decades has he received much-deserved attention outside his native Belgium. Like many European artists to come of age after World War II, De Keyser’s career began tacitly negotiating developments in American high modernism, from abstract expressionism through minimalism. He gained notoriety during the 1960s as part of Nieuwe Visie (New Vision), a group of painters that included Roger Raveel, Etienne Elias, and Reinier Lucassen.

Enjoying a long-standing reputation as being a ‘painter’s painter,’ De Keyser has been a leading influence on the next generation of painters, including Luc Tuymans, Rebecca Morris, and Tomma Abts. Modest in size, De Keyser’s spare works have a special intimacy that derives from the physical characteristics of the medium itself, as well as the tension created between plane and depth, figure and ground. As noted by Hamza Walker of The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, where De Keyser had his United States museum debut in 2000:

De Keyser’s pictorial logic is one in which conclusions regarding composition, color or manner of brush handling are confidently proposed but never asserted to a degree suggesting the evolutionary terminus of an art form . . . Although De Keyser has managed to merge various contradictory elements - figuration and abstraction, gesture and geometry, the garish and the restrained - his work in no way exhibits tendencies of a postmodern eclecticism that would reduce the history of painting to a mere collection of styles. If anything, De Keyser’s work, in modest proportions, has the spirit of painting when abstraction was celebrated for opening new possibilities within the realm of pictorial expression.

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