Raoul de Keyser at David Zwirner

de Keyser

Raoul de Keyser’s Studio

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How much pleasure you derive from Raoul De Keyser’s abstract drawings and paintings, on display at David Zwirner, will depend on your taste for specialization. The veteran Belgian artist—De Keyser was born in 1930—has garnered a cult following for being a “painter’s painter.” That is to say, his aesthetic purview is highly cultivated and forbiddingly narrow.

De Keyser’s trinket-like arrays of geometric forms, biomorphic blips and wandering brushstrokes imagine Paul Klee minus the jewel-like attention to surface or Ellsworth Kelly devoid of structural integrity.

Incapable of differentiating between casual and ragtag, De Keyser is a miniaturist who skimps on craft. His surfaces don’t compel us to nose up to them; De Keyser’s laxity guarantees our indifference. At which point you conclude that some objects of cult reverence deserve the small audience they cultivate.

© 2009 Mario Naves

Originally published in the October 7, 2009 edition of City Arts.

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