Stephen Friedman Gallery is delighted to present an exhibition of new work by German artist Stephan Balkenhol, continuing his considered campaign to reintroduce the figure into contemporary art. This is the artist’s eighth exhibition at the gallery and follows his recently unveiled monument to Richard Wagner in Leipzig and an exhibition at St Elizabeth Church, Kassel.
Balkenhol is renowned for his technical prowess in depicting of the human figure through the medium of hand-carved poplar or waws wood, creating these sculptures from a single block. He combines anonymous subjects with tall pedestals which display proudly the rough, chiselled and hand painted surface upon which the artist has worked. Concurrently, a semblance of the Minimalist tradition still resides in the calm, understated beauty of these works, trends the artist was exposed to whilst attending the Hamburg School of Fine Arts from 1976 – 82. His tutors there included Nam June Paik and Sigmar Polke who both profoundly affected his subsequent artistic practice.
Balkenhol is devoted to exploring the role of the figure in contemporary art and, by shrinking the scale, playfully disrupts the history of figurative sculpture by subverting the monumentality so often associated with it. Furthermore, his figures emanate timelessness through the simple, plain-coloured clothing and the confident yet unassuming poses of the everyday man or woman.