Stephan Balkenhol’s sculptures, carved from single wood blocks, and reliefs depict people, animals, and architectural scenes. His figures, “everyday man and woman”, are devoid of any explanatory elements of individuality, expression, and attire. Yet they look lively, and seem both universally familiar and enigmatic, solitary, and distant. With works such as “Man with bucket on his head” (2007) Balkenhol combines ordinary objects in unexpected ways, adding playfulness and humor.
Balkenhol’s artistic production of figurative sculptures grew out of the dominant trends of Minimalism and Conceptualism in the 1970s. On the other hand, there is history that goes back to 19 century, where sculptures were presented only as political monuments or iconography. Responding to these contexts, Balkenhol has continued his explorations of figurative sculptures that also embrace the elements of Minimalism. His approaches to depiction than explanation, and the expression for “reality and beauty”, have created the poetic works that evoke various emotion, thoughts, and expressions of viewers.
Balkenhol’s works do not convey specific narratives, but suggest his rigorous engagement in materials. Painted over the chisel marks and splinters, his sculptures are both delicate and sturdy, demonstrating that the artist emphasizes spontaneity. His work, consisting all of materials, process, and spaces, presents a series of the explorations of “being”.

This exhibition features new works by Stephan Balkenhol and presents an important opportunity in Japan, where the artist’s last solo show was held in 2007 at Tomio Koyama Gallery (Tokyo).

Artist Profile

Stephan Balkenhol

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).

  • Installation view at Tomio Koyama Gallery Kyoto, Japan, 2011
 ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • Installation view at Tomio Koyama Gallery Kyoto, Japan, 2011
 ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • wall sculpture (man in grey suit) 2011
 wawa wood, acrylic
 h.220.0 × w.60.0 × d.29.0 cm ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • column figure (woman in red coat) 2011 
h.171.0 × w.28.5 × d.32.0 cm (figure)
 ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • column figure (man in green shirt) 2011 
wawa wood, acrylic
 h.173.0 × w.28.0 × d.32.0 cm (figure)
 ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • man in black/ white with relief black gold 2011
 wawa wood, acrylic, gold leaf h.173.0 × w.38.0 × d.31.0 cm (figure)
, h.140.0 × w.99.0 × d.4.0 cm (relief) ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • mirror figure 2011
 wawa wood, silver leaf, acrylic h.220 × w.100.0 × d.41.5 cm ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • small ebony sculpture 2011 
ebony wood h.36.0 × w.20.0 × d.8.0 cm ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • face on blind 2011 
wawa wood, acrylic, sisal
 h.169.5 × w.130.0 × d.12.0 cm ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • head relief (woman grey) 2011
 wawa wood, acrylic
 h.80.0 × w.59.5 × d.2.5 cm ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • head relief (man black) 2011 
wawa wood, acrylic h.80.0 × w.59.5 × d.2.5 cm ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • Installation view at Tomio Koyama Gallery Kyoto, Japan, 2011
 ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • untitled 8-10 2010 
charcoal on paper
 50.0 × 40.0 cm ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • untitled 2-10 2010 
charcoal on paper50.0 × 40.0 cm ©Stephan Balkenhol
  • untitled 1-10 2010
 charcoal on paper 50.0 × 40.0 cm ©Stephan Balkenhol