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Stephan Balkenhol Large Woman with Yellow Shirt, 1994

Stephan Balkenhol
Large Woman with Yellow Shirt, 1994
Poplar wood and paint
100 x 32 x 16 1/2 inches


Stephan Balkenhol was born in Fritzlar, Hesse in 1957. Between 1976 and 1982 Balkenhol studied sculpture at the Hamburg 'Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste' under the strictly minimalist artist Ulrich Rueckriem. From 1988 to 1989, after having received two scholarships, Balkenhol was offered a teaching position at the Hamburg 'Kunsthochschule'. Subsequently, he taught at the Frankfurt 'Staedelschule' until 1991. Balkenhol has been working at the 'Staatliche Kunstakademie' in Karlsruhe since 1992. The quest for new means of expression and interpretations of everyday materials is clearly reflected in Balkenhol's works. Since approximately 1982 the sculptor's creations have emerged from a singular original idea: a larger-than-life human figure and head, carved straight out of a block of wood. Stephan Balkenhol treats wood with traditional tools, always considering the wood as a living substance. Grooves, cracks, chips and fissures remain visible and document the sculpting process. The figure, the head, the face - in its bodily volume accentuated by color markings - are circumscribed, sometimes close to portraits and always containing a certain 'family likeness', but always also including the necessary degree of generalization for a large form. Balkenhol's figures show no signs of subjective feelings or emotions and contain no sociological or socio-critical references. His figures have a completely autonomous presence with a generalizing vagueness, which exemplifies the existential awareness of life of the post-modern man.