“What is, is more than it is. This more is not imposed on it, but remains, as that which is repressed by it, inherent in it. In this respect, the non-identical might constitute self identity versus identification.”*

View of Raoul De Keyser, “To Walk,” 2012. Photo: Jens Ziehe. Courtesy Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin.

The tranquil ambiguity of an intriguing line appears punctuated by speculative moments. At least, that is what I hope to encounter. Concise yet inconclusive, these moments do in fact occur, again and again. Just walk the line; you’ll see. The faltering invitation to failure is there each time—and sometimes, it has to be said, it seems to have been achieved. These things are extraordinarily ordinary—so really, quite special. Emphatically vague, they elide and evade, nothing pictured but something gained. Hovering opacities reminisce amongst themselves, casually precarious. They don’t care what you think. Too little, enough, too much—so what?

Polarized perplexities greet you with slap-dash precision; an ontology of burrs and blurs crosses the surface limits of a mute but canny instability. Perhaps, for some, this is all visually cathartic. Forgotten thoughts might now be remembered, invoked, or invented. What are we looking at exactly? Traces, fragments, bits and pieces—a banana skin bricolage waiting on that unexpected metaphysical slippage. What was Pierre Bonnard thinking about on those hot dusty afternoons, staring into the corners of his room and making paintings of them? Leave your familiar concepts with your umbrella (as it is summer, after all) at the door.

I thought this stuff was supposed to be dead, but with each circuit I see them anew, like a goldfish with (you know) that kind of memory. They look different each time, and I’m concentrating. Put a bullet between their eyes and you’d never be alone—not with the ghost of one of these characters, you wouldn’t—but I have the feeling that they will stay with you anyway; you can hold the violence. The introverted extrovert behind all this has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. All evasive meaning is hidden in clear sight: nothing to hide and something to declare. The objects extort or evoke. You choose. Meaning is conjured up from the banished symmetries of sight. Idiosyncrasies don’t repeat themselves—everybody knows that—but of course knowing it doesn’t do anyone any good, either, especially if it crops up in a situation like this. Let’s just accept that it’s not a scenario you or I are going to be able to define any time soon.

At any rate, I think I know what that is, over there. I’ve seen that somewhere before—I’m sure of it. Actually, thinking more about it, I have to say I haven’t seen anything like it. It’s not this, as it happens, or that. It’s a space in between, but now it’s also solid, with its very own thing going on. Let’s walk over and take a closer look—no harm done. Damn! Now it’s altogether different: nothing integrated, all kind of cobbled together, (don’t let him near your shoes!), just hanging there, or hanging in there, if you catch my drift.

Everything is certainly familiar on first impression, yet with second thoughts certainty is scarce. That’s just the way it goes here—so take it or leave it. Obvious sophistication would be galling, and that’s for sure. On the other hand, experience can be telling. I’d say that what we have been looking at has been around the block a few times; you can see a bit of history here and there. Just assume he knows (having been around the block a few times himself) more about what you have been looking at than you do. Take with you what you will. Enjoy your stroll to the next place, maybe to the market on Maybachufer (if it’s a Tuesday or Thursday), like I did.

Kohlfurter Straße 41 // Berlin, Germany

* Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Frankfurt, 1966) p. 164. Quoted by Hans Rudolf Reust in Moon over Cloud over Moon. Approaches to a Raoul De Keyser Painting, (Exhibition catalogue, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp, 1997) p.45-47.


David Rhodes