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Raoul De Keyser

Raoul De Keyser’s studio, Deinze, Belgium, 2009. Photo: Christophe Vander Eecken.

THE CUMULATIVE EFFECT of experiencing Raoul De Keyser’s work twice during the spring of 2001 (at the Renaissance Society, Chicago, and at David Zwirner, New York) struck me deeply. I was incredibly excited by Raoul’s paintings but overwhelmed by them too, flooded by an intense longing to be an artist who could make a body of work like his. Here was a career’s worth of art at play, a way of composing and building an image that was personal yet also utterly open and generous. It was plainly visible that this was something he had developed for himself, and over time. I wanted that. At seventy, he had the years; at thirty-two, I did not.

I went home to LA and painted a lot. I named one of those pieces For R.D.K. It doesn’t look like Raoul’s painting per se, but it has the spirit and the lean-styled confidence. It’s a funny story—three years later, in 2004, I would meet his art

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