New York

Helmut Federle

Mary Boone Gallery | Chelsea

Helmut Federle makes paintings that eloquently exemplify the new subjective abstraction. His work, which continues and transforms the “metaphysical” tradition of early Modernist abstract painting, competes with the new objectivist abstract painting—for example, Peter Halley's work—for the heritage and power of abstraction. Where Federle demonstrates that abstraction is still alive and can connote the spiritual, Halley suggests that such an alternative is dead in a world that itself has become abstract. Today abstraction is stuck on the horns of this dilemma, a polarization from which there seems to be no escape.

The talismanic Innerlight (HRI), 1985, makes the subjective point succinctly. This small work, painted in a single night of crisis, shows geometry vaporized into light, or light dominating and dissolving geometry. In the other, much larger paintings, geometry and light are fused

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