Sculptor Stephan Balkenhol carves giant tree trunks to free the humans and animals trapped within. They stand in front of sculpted reliefs of landscapes and geometric patterns with distant expressions.
These include sculptures of enlarged human heads, portraits in relief, and fanciful animals. The spark that led to these various forms was created during the 1970s and 80s, during the minimal and conceptual art movements, and it continues in Balkenhol’s style of wooden sculptures. The roughly-carved surface and the bold process of sculpting results in a reality that is stripped to its most basic form of representation. The combination of background relief and foreground sculpture lead to an experimental display of both the second and third dimensions. Whether a sculpture contains a solitary figure or a group, Balkenhol repeats the production of constructing spaces, which results in works that speak volumes about contemporary life.
This exhibition features 14 new sculptures, including one backed by a large 9 m2 relief and one that measures 2 meters tall. 10 drawings will be also shown.
Stephan Balkenhol was born in 1957 in Hesse, Germany. From 1976 he studied at the Hamburg School of Fine Arts where artists including Nam June Paik and Sigmar Polke had taught at the time, and received the tutorship of renowned minimalist sculptor Ulrich Rückriem.
Balkenhol has presented works in numerous exhibitions internationally, and his first solo exhibition in Japan, “Stephan Balkenhol: Skulpturen und Reliefs” held in 2005 at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Osaka, and Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, received significant recognition and acclaim.
His major solo exhibitions include Museé de Grenoble (France, 2010), Deichtorhallen Hamburg (Germany, 2008), Sprengel Museum (Hannover, Germany, 2003), Saatchi Gallery (London, UK, 1996), The Hirshhorn Museum (Washington DC, 1995) , Neue Nationalgalerie (Berlin, Germany, 1994).
His major group exhibitions include “1995 Carnegie International” (Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, 1995), “Doubletake” Hayward Gallery, London, UK, 1992 [toured to Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria] , ”Post Human” FAE Musée d’Art Contemporain, [toured to Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy / Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece / Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany] , ”Possible Worlds: Sculpture from Europe” (ICA and Serpentine Gallery, London, UK , 1990), “Skulptur Projekt in Münster” (Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, Germany, 1987).
Balkenhol’s works are housed in the collections of numerous museums throughout the world including Art Institute of Chicago (USA), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (USA), The Broad Art Foundation (USA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA), Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst (Germany), Kunstmuseum Bonn (Germany), Museum für Moderne Kunst (Germany), The National Museum of Art, Osaka (Japan), The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (Japan).