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Helmut Federle

The paintings of Swiss artist Helmut Federle (b. 1944, Solothurn) can be considered pure exercises for the gaze. A graduate from the School of Applied Arts in Basel, Federle is interested not only in American abstract art, which he first came across in local museums, but also in the cultures he experienced during his travels in India, Afghanistan and Nepal. Later on, other journeys encouraged him to discover the cultures of South America. During the 1970s, while Federle was still hesitating between art and rock music, his painting wavered between figuration and abstraction. In 1977 he began to concentrate on geometric painting formally situated between concrete art and Color Field painting, but which for him was the expression of a deep spiritual quest. Profoundly influenced by Buddhism, Federle sought to formulate answers and create meaning through his pictorial propositions. Often developing his research on a pictorial theme in the countless variations of a series, Federle made small and largescale works, forsaking anything in between. Of the latter, Untitled (September) (1996) is a good example of the pictorial subtlety of his work. At first sight, the three forms in two colours seem to follow a simple geometric scheme. Two rectangles and the ‘T’ shape determine the surface, playing with proportions and balance between the two halves of the canvas. However slight gaps destabilise the near-perfect harmony which is emphasised by the application of richly nuanced colour, forcing the attentive viewer to reflect on their own way of looking. Federle’s works, which are also sometimes referred to as ‘metaphysical abstraction’, show the richness inherent in the contemplation of a ‘simple’ form.

Artworks

  1. Helmut Federle Basic on Composition LVIII (Essen), 1993

    Huile sur toile
    40 x 50 cm
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Apport FOCUNA
    Acquisition 1996
    © Photo : Rémi Villaggi

  1. Helmut Federle Untitled, 1994

    Acrylique sur toile
    240 x 360 cm
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Apport FOCUNA
    Acquisition 1996
    © Photo : Rémi Villaggi

  1. Helmut Federle Untitled (September), 1996

    Acrylique sur toile
    275 x 412,5 cm
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Apport FOCUNA
    Acquisition 1999
    © Photo : Rémi Villaggi

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