Mondes parallèlesincluding works by Helmut Federle

Museum Group Exhibition
CuratorJulia Garimorth, Chief Curator and Head of Contemporary Collections
Artist TalkJulia Garimorth and Helmut Federle
Thu, 29 Jun 2023
Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris
14 Apr23 Aug 2023
Helmut Federle was born in 1944 in Solothurn in Switzerland, growing up in modest circumstances before relocating to Basel where he began to study art. The year he spent in Tunis, followed by a period at the Cité des Arts in Paris turned out to be crucial in his artistic development. During the 1970s, he travelled across the USA before settling in New York, where he remained until 1983. Inspired by the legacy of abstract impressionism, Federle developed a body of work situated at the crossroads between painterly gesture and poetic inspiration. The landscape themes of his first compositions gradually gave way to an increasingly abstract language, finally leading to the definitive eradication of all references to reality. He now employs a reduced two-dimensional vocabulary organized around symbols, ideograms, letters and geometric elements that lend his works a powerful and contrasting rhythm. Some of his paintings feature a pronounced graphic structure that plays on the opposition of horizontal and vertical lines, while others, with their more ample expanses of color alternate between background and figure, shadow and light, movement and immobility.
Federle imbues his works with a spiritual and intellectual dimension that goes far beyond the abstract forms they portray. Influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche’s nihilistic thought, Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy and Japanese Shintoism, he was also drawn to the ideals of the Beat Generation (Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg) and to the writings of Albert Camus. Long periods of travel in East Asia, India and the Middle East (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan) exposed him to other ways of life, different religious beliefs and aesthetic conceptions. Driven by doubts and contradictions since an early age, he situates himself as a rebel in his position as an artist and believes that art should reflect the experience of the constant search for oneself in order to fulfil certain existential demands and the quest for truth. This stance has given rise to a radicality, which in association with his quest for spirituality, constitutes one of the major sources of his artistic approach. (Text Excerpt)
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  • Courtesy: Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris
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