STEPHAN BALKENHOL - SCULPTURES
12th July to 12th October 2014Stephan Balkenhol's sculptures are among the most well known works of contemporary art in Germany. His figures, often 'normal,' neutral, coincidental looking bystanders, inhabit many of the museums and public spaces of our cities. Mainly Balkenhol has produced human figures, but he has made animals and mythical creatures as well. Their simple and seemingly casual formal language has contributed to their success, and at the same time made them a provocation in the eyes of critics and other representatives of the art world. (...)
Stephan Balkenhol's sculptures contain clear references to sculptural traditions reaching as far back as classical antiquity, and they incorporate a number of contradictory sculptural ideas and concepts. Balkenhol is a post-abstract, post-minimalist sculptor, and he has subjected his figures to a modernist reduction of formal language, to the point of abstraction. So if his figures seem iconographically indifferent, neutral, or unliterary, that is the reason. Balkenhol's motif of the man in white shirt and black pants has become an archetype, on par formally with the granite block of his teacher Ulrich Rückriem, or Donald Judd's enameled steel boxes. In view of the specificity of objects in the Minimal Art that came before him, Balkenhol's emphasis on the handmade in his hewn from the trunk figures is in no way revisionist. He does not reject the tradition, but rather incorporates it into his figures as another layer of content.
Author: Kay Heymer