Image: Stephan Balkenhol
Museum Exhibitions

Stephan Balkenhol Sculptures And Reliefs

8 September—13 November 2016
Moscow Museum Of Modern Art

Moscow Museum Of Modern Art
10 Gogolevsky Boulevard


Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents the first major Russian solo exhibition of German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol (b. 1957), spanning the entirety of the artist’s career.

For over three decades Stephan Balkenhol has been among the most acclaimed contemporary sculptors in the world. His works are held in public and private collections in Frankfurt, Bremen, Karlsruhe, Hamburg, Copenhagen, London, Paris, Johannesburg, Hague, New York and Chicago among others. Sculptures and Reliefs features the artist’s sketches, as well as many of his completed works.

Pursuing the European tradition of wooden sculpture that dates back to the Middle Ages, Stephan Balkenhol carves his sculptures from a wide range of woods including wawa, cedar and fir, without any assistance. His human figures are never polished to waxy smoothness and artifice: like humans they would not be themselves without imperfections. The rough surfaces and cuts create a sense of a life force hidden inside the figures of seemingly apathetic humans—an evidence of the artist’s love of and faith in humanity.

Balkenhol is not a storyteller. The characters he portrays are strangers who are vaguely similar to each and everyone of us, and at the same time, very much distanced from the viewer. The artist deliberately avoids complicated descriptions and clever connotations in the titles of his works: instead, they reaffirm the absolute ‘normality’ of his characters deprived of social class or personal characteristics. Any interpretations of his works are crushed by the silent presence of his roughly carved figures. The question they seem to raise is whether we can still see a human behind the alienation and spectacle of contemporary life?

Sculptures and Reliefs is inscribed in the continuity of a series of exhibitions exploring German contemporary art. Moscow Museum of Modern Art has previously hosted the exhibition The Paths of German Art from 1949 till the Present Day (2014), and a retrospective exhibition of Joseph Beuys Appeal for an Alternative (2012).

A catalogue of the exhibition in Russian and in English will feature essays by Georgy Nikich and Matthias Winzen, as well as an interview with the artist.

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