Raoul De Keyser


Painter said...

Raoul De Keyser @
David Zwiner
533 West 19th Street

mr peeps said...

wanted to love it but couldnt because the show is very uneven and thin. it looked like it was yanked out of his studio too soon by his dealer. because of this the potential simplicity and availability in these paintings turns to a kind of pretentiousness, like too many tiny shreds given too much importance. the painting you show here is one of the best.

hlowe said...

my cup of tea, but I AM looking at a jpeg.
Mr.Peeps, do you think it was the way it was displayed? (lighting, space, etc.)

This sounds recondite but I have noticed that when paintings are neglected in one way or another they actually suffer a good view.
I had this experience looking at a Rothko at MOCA.

no-where-man said...

the show read as sparce, like more growing pains then sublime.

clement said...

Skinnier than Twiggy at an all you can eat buffet

camron said...

thats harsh. he's my dad.

kid said...

My mom once figure-grounded me for three weaks

Anonymous said...

cause you were a slow Zwirner?...these works flip into Tuymans more abstract leanings...a similar sensibility in some regards.

Cross said...

Sometimes a show reveals just a little too much. In this case the primary colors and horizon lines in only a couple paintings are enough to break the spell. This work balances between austere abstraction (mapping) and cartoonish figures. Including a cartoon landscape piece with clouds makes either the artist or his dealer look unsure, like they don't trust the work enough. And that's too bad, because there is quite a bit here to like.

closeuup said...

How far into termite-ville can a painter go? Before it's just too inconsequential?

zipthwung said...

Reactionary and conservative. This stuff wont have any real liquidity but it will work as an instrument?

Take Mandelbrot, of chaos theory fame.

He worked for the research wing of IBM and studied chaotic systems like cotton prices.

Was he an artist? No. He was an employee of IBM.

Same with Pynchon. Pynchon was a technical writer before he quit to become an author. I mean he was an author, but technically he wasn't supposed to be writing on company time.

Maybe Im not a critic. Or even an artist. Radical doubt can do that to you. If you define doubt as "abscence". Then you cant even think, because then you are comitting an act of faith.

But chaos theory applies to systems. Im more interested in how this painting functions within the market than in the work itself.

Unarguably fascinating and resonant.

Decay Image said...

cmon guys this artist is 76 years old. He's dealing with ideologies with origins in Picabia. Closest american artist is Mary Heilman or Gary Stephan. Of course it's conservative, whadya expect? Basically it's a deconstruction of how form arises in painting, which might have been provocative 25 years ago when he was 50. And if you are a young painter rejecting the rising plethora of figurative blather out there, this work should have something to say to you. If you are way beyond these particular issues (and I think it would be hard to find this fresh) well it still makes him a pretty cool old dude. I say let the guy have his American moment.

As for zip's market function: the artworld periodically and arbitrarily (or chaotically) rediscovers some steadfast forgotten artist who has labored steadily and seriously without reward in order to give hope to all of us who haven't reaped the benefits of young fame so that the system can keep a veneer of good faith. I call it the Van Gogh effect.

tomas said...

He's known in Europe. It is still possible to be known there and unknown here.

Does it matter to anyone how the work looks outside its context? Outside its time?

"rejecting the rising plethora of figurative blather out there"- It is amazing how easily threatened abstract artists seem to be. Seem to see their 50 or so year monopoly as the natural or true course of things.

Decay Image said...

whoa tomas, 'snot what I meant. I don't see myself as a part of any team, except maybe being anti-ideology, and rigorously non-platonic.

I'm just noticing that in the early nineties when abstract art had run seriously aground, representational strategies looked fresh, and new pathways were being opened. It's just a lot harder (but I'm certainly not saying impossible) for any painting to have the radical edge that I think is necessary. Maybe we are just in endless fashion cycles, but it certainly seems the edge to figurative art has been seriously blunted.

There is a lot of mediocre figurative blather out there just because of the market. Abstract expressionism was over in ten years, despite the marketplace being a fraction of its present size. If you are a figurative artist, you better have a good conceptual handle on what you are doing. By contrast abstract strategies by younger artists are frequently getting consideration just because they are starting to stand out. That's why De Keyser is getting the Zwirner treatment, he represents a good model for rethinking abstract art. Look at his context in Zwirner Gallery, there's only two abstract artists there, and they are both older.

I think it is a pretty lamentable situation. That's why Garabedian got such a lame response, and everyone is atwitter over Brice; especially since he continues to look so rigorous (whatever that exactly means, pace, Zip).

I was totally blown away by the new Currin show, btw. He continues to push the figurative envelope.

tomas said...

DK- Maybe I misunderstood. But doesn't this work look pretty lame once you take the lameness out of the context of some intentionally lame response to other things? How long is that good for?

Of course their are fashion cycles, but I'm not sure if looking fresh is the most important thing. Though there is some overlap, figuration and abstraction make their meanings differently.

I sometimes wonder if the idea of "radical edge" isn't primarily a market idea and device too. Perpetual newness.


I thought he was some young painter ?...why? because it looks like he bought the modernist farm lock stock and barrel no questions asked I think its the one thing/look thats consistent on this website there is a Thinness and Shallowness everyones happy with what they have done and it shows

tomas said...

Zwirner's father showed him in Cologne in the 80's and early 90's I think. He showed a lot of abstract painters.

Anonymous said...

Push pull figure ground is not a complete sentence.
The fact is people don' talk that way anymore, because it really isn't useful for painting... like it would be more useful to talk like Cary Grant, or Kate Hepburn [ Quote: Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four.].

Raoul does his own thing, makes gapping big mistakes, short-handedly, that work.

Riot said...

Its the same color as the Diva's Bood. Really, it looks just like the moment where she is bleeding to death all over Corbin Dallas. Its a pretty painting I think.

I still can't figure how they fit those four stones into that kinny woman though.

clement said...

thin is thin, any way you slice it

zipthwung said...

thinking, I am!

zipthwung said...


is often in the eye of the beholder.

Take Whistler. He was rigourous. And yet his work often took only a day, a skip, and a jump to 200 guineas. A guinea is not a pig, you idiot, its a gold piece.

Is it worth it? In my economy of scale, no, 200 gold pieces can buy a lot of magic elixir, where other people make magic elixir just by smiling, and ice cubes with their subzero refrigerators.

zipthwung said...

put food on your family

cathy said...


Anonymous said...

... right, you guys are into bells and whistles, bells and whistles, I forgot! How about a bell, and the occasional whistle-- like a dong, and an hour or so of silence, dong, followed by a couple of faint whistles far off-like...
I think zip-mist has the idea though. Is having the tea, even worth having the knack--to print gold, worth the gold the tea is printed on, if you can't pick it up in real life? It's a valid point of view, and it didn't take a gold penny to drop to get it. Anyway, heavy is just an old-fashion love song, its weight a burden, like the old-fashion penny.
That's the problem with painting there are all these watchers waiting for that great thing to come along--but missing all the signs (because of love-can't shake it off--memory), ending in body/mind back circle to the old bar, with the guys, with the masks, with (what did kelli say?) 'gorilla masks', beating real chests, inebriated. And when the penny drops, who'd hear it? Who would care? That's the needlepoint! Gotta go paint a square--moving up!

zipthwung said...

The sci fi channel takes classic plots and then produces movies with b list actors and pretty groovy special effects.

The last one I saw was like 1984. But its now almost 2007.

I wouldnt mind being in that loop.

zipthwung said...

Intergalactic planetary, another dimension right brah? Well Im about the ill communication.

Hell, I could take you through it step by step, explain why your story stinks, but I won't insult your intelligence. Well all right, first of all: This is a wrestling picture; the audience wants to see action, drama, wrestling, and plenty of it. They don't wanna see a guy wrestling with
his soul - well, all right, a little bit, for the
critics - but you make it the carrot that wags the
dog. Too much of it and they head for exits and I
don't blame 'em. There's plenty of poetry right
inside that ring, Fink. Look at "Hell Ten Feet


"Blood, Sweat, and Canvas".

closeuup said...

I get Tuttle, but I don't get these.

zipthwung said...

im more into realism

you know, first person shooter.

zipthwung said...

I think we are simply living through what is, creatively, a mediocre era. You know? I mean, I think art is probably dead, but then it comes back like some sort of Edgar allen Poe story.

mr peeps said...

decay image, it's true, give the guy his due, AND i dont think he's conservative at ALL. i think the implications are radical or at least refreshing against the background of the incredible conservatism of the "blather." my opinion that this show is thin was particular to THIS show. it wasnt an overall judgement of de keyser, whom i admire and whose work i respect enormously.

no-where-man said...

only the moralizing of finch would make this area mediocre. i see alot of grade A.

peer said...

From my perspective they are fragile, wonderfully empty, barely there kind of paintings. They make me feel sweetly melancholic...they are a wonderful precursor to Luc Tuymans. I see them as poetic like Tuttle or Partenheimer but heavier...or rather more sombre.

cathy said...

Tuyman is the antichrist.

I see blue and white. Does this mean I know nothing?

Lets discuss who is the contemporary artist antichrist.

Cooky Blaha said...

@Brent drop me a line cookyblaha@yahoo.com

zipthwung said...

I think its easy to lose sight of the fact that any decade, or millenium or second, theres something going on that Finch hasnt heard of.

Melancholy is fine. I dont find it hard to evoke that feeling though.

One way it to leave your tupperware to dry in the sun and then smash it top bits and form letters with the negative spaces.

Cooky Blaha said...

I think its Basically solid work, if you like this kind of stuff; I see them in relation to that silver ballet painter at Gavin Brown, but also weakly endebted(sic?) to Diebenkorn

Anonymous said...

Tuttle sees things formally mostly and then giggles them into hybridity. De Keyser works the other way, garnering notes and memoirs to recapitulate these exigencies into loosely formal arrangements: They generally work, and are fresh!

Anonymous said...

Hey cooky I returned mail last night, maybe check your junk mail.

Hey Cooky,
Let me know the days you are in town and I'm sure we can meet, take in a show, drink, depending on the day. I work, but it's usually pretty light--depends on the day. Saturdays are out for the next few weeks.
Let me know soon--!
We'll work from there! Builders are here next week ripping the floors up so it may be congested here--but see what we can do! Nice ur here! Wasn't sure if you were just kidding!!:)

no-where-man said...

so slow it is nyc goverment processed.

chicomacho said...

zip, i love your posts, but sometimes you confuse the hell out of me, (via above?)

sometimes I want you to just cut the crap and say straight out what your talking about? or am i the only one confused??

i used to make abstract paintings but finally stopped cause I felt disconnected to anything other than those damn paintings and my self obsession over things that didn't mean shit in the wide scope of life.

I think that is the problem with 'abstraction' it gets caught up in its own time, but when the times change, it has nothing else to relate too until the next phase of abstract comes around and that phase might have nothing to do with the last one.

Why are there so many teachers in colleges who make abstract work and are still stuck in the time when they were in their 20s and 30s? I think thats a bad sign!

Look at Alex Katz, the guy has been making the same damn paintings forever and times have changed and essentially, they have always been relevant.


kalm james said...

I dropped by the show a couple of weeks ago, and this visit was my first gander at the expanded Zwirner gallery space. Wow. Unfortunately this kind of work doesn’t come off well in this space, like postage-stamps in an airplane hanger. This delicate sensibility requires a bit more intimacy to more fully appreciate it.
That said, my taste ran to the more colorful pieces. A picture with a couple of cobalt blue blocks and an off white diagonal zip on a toned down yellow field on the back wall was yummy. The two color pieces with the raged shapes on horizontal lines didn’t make it for me. I did like the honesty of the presentation, funky little paintings, thin canvas, stretched with a kind of perfunctory urgency, no pretence about hiding the seams of the mask. For NYC painters, with their own set of dogmas, this kind of thing might be a little to European, maybe a little to early sixties. Rather than thin, (which they were) I’d classify them as light, but since when did that become a pejorative?

The discussion above regarding the “conservative” nature of abstraction vs. figuration is a whole different conundrum. Art that is of its time? What does that mean? We all like to think that we’re on the cutting edge, but if everyone is there then you’re not really on the edge.

There has been an interesting reversal in the thinking about figuration. In truth, figuration is the more “conservative” practice, requiring a more academic grounding. Ironically when abstraction was assimilated into the academy it too became “conservative.” So what are we left with as far as “un-conservative” possibilities? Or do we simply pick up one of the “conservative” viewpoints and try to drag it into a radical i.e. new direction through personal determination? How can you tell when you’ve really reached a vain of true originality? Is this argument more about language that painting? Shut up and paint, or spend all night trying to weave an interesting philosophical construct to hang your latest rehash on?

tomas said...

Don't agree that figuration is "the more conservative practice." For years, the academy has taught that figuration is a path to abstraction. 20th century academies from the 60's on tended to stress and teach abstraction.

Sounds from some of the posts above, as if because of the age of most teachers, that still continues.

chicomacho said...

thats exactly the problem....

too many people shut up and paint and end up making useless shit that in the end quantifies as anyone who makes something and calls themselves and artist is one

or they self obsess over their constructs that has no relation to anything other than the fucking art world which (im sorry to say folks) NO ONE GIVES A FUCK ABOUT OTHER THAN US

maybe its just me, but it would be nice to see someone TRYING to make something that reads to the outside world like 'art' used to do

closeuup said...

i agree chico, but abstraction does read to the outside world.

zipthwung said...

Mind made of midas.
Hook line and sinker.
lead head

cathy said...

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Anonymous said...

I love the outside world. do you? every time I pick up an art material I think...look out outside world and I paint my art out.

closeuup said...

The veil

between what's called heart
and the real evil

TV cameras and goons
monitor constant rebellion
whispers, life —
sustaining schemes

Everyone listens
for their turn
like Shaharazad
keep the axe away another day

Listening and telling
learning how
but never the same again
inside or outside
utterly clear
about the real evil
and what is called heart

Cooky Blaha said...

fuck the outside world..except when art gets you laid. oh wait that is fucking the outside world. cool

zipthwung said...



David Zwirner Gallery
533 West 19th Street, Chelsea
Through tomorrow

Spread out in the large, pristine space that now forms a third of the expanded David Zwirner Gallery, the 29 small paintings by Raoul De Keyser look refreshingly modest and sincere. When you realize that all but a few are dated 2006, that refreshing modesty acquires a tinge of mass production. As you move from painting to painting, absorbing the weird combination of deliberation and indecision that energizes the scattered shapes, seemingly random strokes and occasional fields of saturated color, the initial impression may triumph.

Mr. De Keyser, who is Belgian and turns 76 this year, had his first solo show in Europe in 1965 and in this country in 2001 (go figure). He is the invisible godfather of a lot of pleasantly unassuming, slightly mysterious painting, from Luc Tuymans to Richard Aldrich.

Mr. De Keyser focuses on, but also relies on, what may be painting’s most basic quality: the inevitability with which marks on canvas create spatial illusion, suggest things seen in the world and evoke other paintings. Without seeming to do much at all, Mr. De Keyser’s paintings do those things richly and regularly.

The works here can conjure up ocean charts, architectural models, landscape paintings in general (and Milton Avery’s and Stuart Davis’s in particular), Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, Mondrian and Matisse. They also resemble details of Process art pieces by artists like Richard Tuttle or Barry Le Va; in fact, many of the images are based on small cardboard cutouts, continually rearranged. ROBERTA SMITH