The following information was submitted in August of 2006 by G. William Haas:
Peter Robert Keil was born in August 1942 in Züllichau I Pommern (now Poland). His father was killed in the early years of World War II. After the death of his father on the Eastern Front, mother and son set out to make their way through the chaos of battered Germany to West Berlin. There he grew up in the neighborhood of grey blocks of houses, the typical backyards and the trees of the park nearby. There the young Keil attended school with singer and actress Conny Froboess and film star Horst Buchholz.
Ten-year-old Peter Robert Keil fascinated by the books he found in the art section of the local library. There he admired the works of the Expressionists, Picasso in particular. The expressiveness of the vivid color opened a way to temporarily escape from the dullness and depression of everyday life in post-war Germany as Peter made his first attempts at visual art. In the beginning, Peter studied and copied the style of the great master Picasso whom he later met in Spain. The public response to Peter's work was positive with a few quick sales but buyers encouraged him to develop his own signature style.
At the age of 15 he met the painter Otto Nagel, who was working on social background studies and became his first teacher and mentor. Otto Nagel introduced Keil to painting techniques, taught him realistic painting, and how to deal with colors. As a young man, Keil accompanied Nagel on his tours of Berlin's back streets. They often painted from nature and the young Keil learned to see his neighborhood with the eyes of an artist. Teaching him the painter's craft and introducing him to outdoor painting, Nagel also influenced his motifs as well as his color palette.
Keil refined his technique and broadened his knowledge when he studied at Berlin's "Akademie für Bildende Künste." While at the Berlin Academy of Fines Arts, Keil treated his studies cavalierly. Thought to be an advanced student by his instructors, the Academy brought about some important acquaintances and contacts. There he met Baselitz, Fetting, Lupertz and Schonebeck and made friends with Salome, Schmettau and other important artists.
In 1961 he attended Baselitz's and Schonebeck's public presentation of their "Pandemonium Manifesto" at the "Grossgorschen 35" gallery. Keil also became at regular at Herta Fiedler's who much like Gertrude Stein in her day, became known as the "artists' mother." Keil was a well-known denizen of "Kleine Weltlaterne" in Moritzplatz, a meeting place for the emerging avant-garde "Junge Wilde" ("YoungFauves") artists, and he became the darling of art circles earning him the nickname the 'Wild man of Berlin" for his passion for art and living.
The erection of the Berlin Wall interrupted the relationship with his famous mentor when Nagel was trapped beyond the Wall in East Berlin. Another important factor in those formative years of Keil's artistic development was his close friendship with the painter Juan Miro whom he had met in Mallorca, Spain in the early sixties. Mirò repeatedly invited him to his studio in Palma, high above the Gala Major bay. The intense sunlight as well as the vivid colors of the Mediterranean region were important sources of inspiration for both Miro and Peter Robert Keil. From his friend, Peter learned that "a picture begins to enforce and to reveal itself under the artist's brush during the act of painting" (Mirò). The freedom of rhythmic structuring, the verve and brightness of the vocabulary of primary colors and pure form lead him away from realistic way of seeing and depicting his art to a freer, more "raw" neo-expressionistic style of painting. In the early 1990's BBC television ran an extended interview with Keil discussing his times with Miro in his studio.
After Peter left Spain, he found a small studio in Paris near Place de Bastie. Living the carefree artist's life in Paris, the young Keil had a great time in the cafes, bars and restaurants of magnificent city and all it had to offer. By day he studied the Old Masterpieces in the museums, at night he painted portraits in bars to earn his living. Outcasts of the Parisian street scene and prostitutes were not only his models, but often thankful customers.
While in France, Keil continued to develop and learn dynamic and spontaneous brushwork techniques. Free of nature's constraints, the artist further distanced his painting from representational realism, seeking his own freer form. At night he came into contact with colorful characters, among them thieves, alcoholics, drug addicts, artists and streetwalkers who served as models for his sketches. This environment, with its eschewing of bourgeois convention, had a strong attraction for the young artist. His newly found social awareness is reflected in his pictures and portraits which already carried his individual trademark. By their coarseness, dynamism, vibrant coloring and subject matter, they are a visual record of the early phase of West German neo-expressionist painting.
Source: Razoo Gallery