london

Raoul De Keyser

Whitechapel Gallery

Why has Raoul De Keyser’s art assumed international prominence in the last decade? Not only is he the wrong age—over sixty when his work finally began to filter out over the Belgian border in the early ’90s, now in his seventies for his first retrospective, comprising some seventy-five paintings from 1963 to the present—but his work doesn’t seem to have much to do with the big issues of recent painting: Although not programmatically abstract nor based on reduction to the monochrome or the mechanization of the painting process, neither does it evince any special fixation on the medium’s relation to the photographic image, popular culture, the readymade, or linguistic signification. And while the dichotomy between object and image does seem important to De Keyser’s early work—Slice III, 1969, leans against the wall like a John McCracken plank, while Zevende Linnen Doos (Seventh Linen Box),

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