Join us for an artist talk at HALLE on Tuesday, 23 August at 6pm Stephan Balkenhol in conversation with Dr. Thorsten Sadowsky, Director of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg RSVP at [email protected]
What distinguishes Balkenhol's sculptures is surely this serenity [...] Ultimately, we encounter them as mute messengers from a dream realm. Our gaze does not meet theirs, but: they have this look – they lead us into the world of what they have beheld [...] like the ferrymen on a journey that takes us away from here. That is their mission: hence their motionlessness, their weightiness. – Thomas Oberender
Balkenhol has been creating statuary wooden sculptures for more than three decades, hewing them directly from the wood with hammer and chisel. Despite the prevalent abstract trends in sculpture, he had already begun working figuratively during his studies under Ulrich Rückriem at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts (1976–82). Set against a background of conceptual strictness and the minimalism of his teacher’s works, Balkenhol was the exception, reintroducing the figure to contemporary sculpture. In his works, the traces left by the chisel remain visible, and the geometric wooden block from which the sculpture emerges is retained as a pedestal or residual form.
The cube at its base is inseparable from the figure rising from it, evoking the enclosing contours of the original wood block. The archaic, expressive treatment of the material coincides with the representation of human, animal or hybrid beings executed at different scales.
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