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).