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NZZ, Neue Zurcher Zeitung

Blume des Todes III (Rotes Kreuz), 1983/1989, acrylic, oil and charcoal on canvas, 23 3/4 x 28 3/4 inches

Longing and Ascetism
By Philipp Meier
November 10, 2013

Nowadays, he is a silent mentor to an entire generation of artists, who have dedicated themselves to abstraction. Helmut Federle, who represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale in 1997, is internationally known for his subtle geometric-abstract paintings. Always committed to modern painting, Federle has followed its own quiet path of two-dimensional sign-related geometrical work. He became known not using color in the doctrine of the ‘Schweizer Konkreten,’ but for his use of grey, white, and yellow-green color-shades that testify to a kind of ascetic painting the native Swiss artist enforced. Beams, strokes, blocks, yes even the first initials of the artist’s name are architectural elements in which Federle achieves a pictorial expression in balance between graphic art and painting. His works are color rooms as well as color sounds which appear very restrained in our loud present and they remain permanently at the border of communication need and silence – mysterious codes for a longing that might never be communicable. Medium-sized paintings by this significant international artist cost up to 80,000 Euros today.

Philipp Meier, writer 

Translated into English from the original German text.

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