Helmut Federle is without question one of Europe’s most respected painters. Though Federle paints a relatively modest amount each year the cumulative weight of his practice situates him alongside other senior painters such as Richter, Knoebel and American painters such as Kelly and Ryman.
Beside these contemporaries though, Federle’s work is driven by twin forces – a romantic spirit and a sensibility that is distinctly northern European in its “last light of day” impressionism. There is also an enduring interest in the cultural production and symbolism that is found in cultures such as Pre-Columbian or North American Indian and indeed the ceremonial behavior, vital to both the making and use in Chinese and Japanese ceramics for example. These qualities, Federle suggests, are largely lost in contemporary western civilization. These “points of orientation” have been central to so-called “primitive” culture and their absence in Western society is lamentable.