Raoul De Keyser, Belgian Painter of Modest, Mysterious Abstractions, Dies at 82

Keyser. (Courtesy Contemporary Drawing Salon)

The Belgian artist Raoul De Keyser, a painter of elegant, subtle abstractions, died on Saturday, Oct. 6, according to Knack. The news comes to us via Artforum. He was 82.

Based in Deinze, Belgium, Mr. De Keyser worked as a sports journalist and administrative assistant at Ghent University before moving into painting, Artforum reports, and earned international recognition only after being included in Documenta 9 in 1992, when he was in his early 60s.

At his best, Mr. De Keyser produced intimate, inventive abstractions with an absolute economy of means—a few shaped patches of paint against a field of one or two different colors. His style could be compared to Blinky Palermo at that artist’s sparest moments, though Mr. De Keyser’s touch was often looser, and his color palette more introverted and hermetic. Given his reclusiveness, Artforum writes, he was known by some as the “sphinx of Deinze.”

“Despite—or precisely because of—their sparse gesturing, De Keyser’s works convey a grandeur that inspires prolonged contemplation,” David Zwirner gallery, which has represented Mr. De Keyser in New York since 1999, said in a statement. “Individually as well as collectively, his works revolve around the activity of painting, but also move beyond its physical means to become more than the sum of their parts.”

(Image courtesy Contemporary Drawing Salon)