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Helmut Federle

Zweiteiliges Bild/Zwei Bewegungen, Zwei Zentren, 1991-1992
acrylic on linen
229.0 x 331.0 cm
Taking particular care with the way his compositions are arranged, in his works Helmut Federle invariably maintains a spatial structure based on the relation between the horizontal and the vertical. Favouring large, empty spaces, he nevertheless integrates within them some geometrical forms (squares, rectangles), which he places at the edges of the canvas with a determination to spread his composition – and by extension his spiritual quest – beyond the spatial limits imposed by the pictorial field. The simple forms interact with each other in a play of more or less contrasted emphasis.

The restrained palette essentially consists of a tarnished yellow and a faded grey with muted tones, placed on fields of plain colour surrounded by sharp contours. It accentuates the sobriety of his oeuvre, discreetly counterbalanced by the slight modulations of the strokes, the visibility of the gesture and the tactile, almost rough, aspect of the surface, which thus acquires both a plastic presence and, paradoxically, a quasi mystical immateriality.

Despite the formal rigour and the chromatic reduction which characterise Federle’s exacting and abstract language, his paintings are full of a silent energy loaded with a spiritual evocation that constantly seems to oscillate between the temptation of pessimism, nostalgic melancholy and the search for the ideal and the sublime. Although the foundations of his art are linked to the geometrical experimentations of 20th century painting, in particular to American abstraction of the 1950s, the artist admits – despite appearances – to have been guided more by preoccupations of a spiritual and emotional, rather than a formal or mathematical order, hence anchoring his perpetual quest in the purest Romantic tradition.
Helmut Federle, Zweiteiliges Bild/Zwei Bewegungen, Zwei Zentren, 1991-1992