New York

Helmut Federle

Peter Blum

At the heart of each of the five paintings Helmut Federle showed at Peter Blum is an irregular pentagon, a flat geometry brighter than the rest of the picture, if not always by much. That void is not bare canvas—it shows pigment—but it might almost have gone unpainted, since it has become itself partly by omission: It is defined by the paint around it, applied in overlapping layers of wide straight bands radiating outward over the surface in progressively darker rings. In The Danish Prince; Vilhelm Hammershøi (all works 2009) and occasionally elsewhere, faint pencil lines mark the pentagon’s edges. More often, though, this shape seems near accidental, the space left at the intersection of pictorial vectors going about their own ends.

The interior of each pentagon is still, its tonality even, but outside it the paint is thin enough to reveal underlying strata, those directional bands laid

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