Raoul De Keyser Sejour 2001 web

On the basis of paintings, watercolours and drawings, S.M.A.K. is presenting the first posthumous survey of Raoul De Keyser’s oeuvre.

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.

Following his experiments with the fundamental elements of painting, including colour, paint and canvas, that were so typical of the 1970s, De Keyser’s visual idiom opened up and became more fluent. This signalled 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.

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).


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.

Film programme
Belgian art historian Koen Brams will present a wide-ranging film programme 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. More detailed information will be available later.

This exhibition is a joint project with the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.

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