Helmut Federle
Panthera Nigra

April 4 – May 4, 1998
at Peter Blum SoHo

Peter Blum is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent paintings by Helmut Federle. Opening on Thursday, April 2, at 99 Wooster Street, the exhibition extends through May.

Panthera Nigra (Black Panther) is the title of the large-format painting that will be the central focus of this exhibition. Measuring approximately 11 by 17 feet, Panthera Nigra is the outgrowth and continuation of four large-format paintings that were presented in the Swiss Pavilion at the 1997 Venice Biennale last summer. Also on view are some smaller recent works and a selection of works on paper related to Panthera Nigra.  For the exhibition of this important new painting, the gallery space has also been architecturally altered and redesigned by the artist.

In Gottfried Boehm's  essay "Dark Light" (Helmut Federle XLVII Biennale Venedig) he states, "We look at the paintings and, in a certain way, we also look through them."  Federle's recent paintings "are driven by the relationship between the impenetrable and the obvious, opaqueness and transparency." The paintings "open up" as Boehm asserts, where  "complex transitions coexist between the visible and the readable, between visual suggestiveness and underlying meaning."  

Looking at the way Federle applies paint and plans the structure of his compositions, on the one hand we find his rigorous, hard-edged geometry - dense and completely smooth, without any visible brushstrokes. At the same time we find paintings where the brushwork is visibly apparent, the color all-inclusive, open and thinned out. We readily see how several layers of paint have been applied slowly, one on top of the other, so that the contemplative energy of the composition is achieved through balance and counterbalance.
In the most recent works, like Panthera Nigra, Federle has allowed for a fusion of these dichotomies, of the geometric image against a wide, loosely diffused ground.

The work of Helmut Federle has been the subject of numerous important exhibitions, presented at the Kunsthalle Zürich (1992), Moderna Museet Stockholm (1992), Museum Folkwang, Essen (1993), Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1995), and Kunstmuseum Bonn (1995). Most recently Federle was chosen to represent Switzerland at the 1997 Venice Biennale. Born 1944, Solothurn, Switzerland, Federle  lives and works in Vienna. This exhibition is Federle's  second one-man show at Peter Blum.

For further information and visual materials, please contact Peter Blum or Arthur Solway. The gallery is located at 99 Wooster Street. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 10-6, Saturday 11-6 and Monday by appointment.