German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol (b.1957) portrays human figures with archaic, raw-hewn spontaneity. His anonymous figures stand formally like monuments on pedestals, their faces expressionless, yet something about their bearing conveys an undercurrent of intensity as if they were absorbed in deep, furious thought. Balkenhol made a clear departure from dominant trends in the early eighties by adopting a figurative style of sculpting. The human figure and the fundamental questions of human existence have since remained the focal concern of his art. Although his idiom is figurative, Balkenhol refrains from delivering explicit commentary instead of leaving room for the viewer’s interpretations.
Balkenhol begins each sculpture with a single woodblock, usually soft poplar, Wawa or Douglas fir. His chisel marks are visible on the surface of the crudely carved figures, the splinters and fissures conveying a sense of human frailty and imperfection. The neutral, timeless clothing is painted in evocative but straightforward color combinations.
Stephan Balkenhol is one of the preeminent sculptors of our time. His practice grew out of the dominant trends of Minimalism and Conceptualism in the 1970s, where he stood alone in his desire to reintroduce the figure to contemporary sculpture.
Balkenhol studied at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg (1982) and has served as professor at the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe since 1992. His work have been exhibited extensively in international exhibitions and is included in several collections, such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, as well as in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Galerie Forsblom has been representing Stephan Balkenhol since 2009.