artist / participant

press release

When Mark Deweer discovered the work of Stephan Balkenhol (born in Fritzlar, Hessen, Germany in 1957 and currently living in Meisenthal, France and Berlin and Karlsruhe, Germany), in the Hamburg Jenisch-Park, back in 1987, he immediately fell for the work; Mark did not only instantly buy the artist's well-known equestrian sculpture 'Rider', he equally promptly scheduled his first show with the German sculptor. Both decisions mark the beginning of a long-lasting, tight friendship with the artist, who in the meantime enjoys worldwide international recognition. The current exhibition 'Stephan Balkenhol' is the 10th solo show of the artist in DEWEER gallery. Also, today the artist and the gallery happily celebrate 25 years of fine collaboration.

The sculptures of Stephan Balkenhol have a surprising quality. Is it because they gaze without seeing? Or because their posture is so timeless? They are present, but they never impose themselves. They are statues in the most solemn sense of the world. The artist deliberately excludes emotion from their gesture and posture, so they could have an inner psychological life. Their appearance is characterised by classic features. These statues, directly carved in wood, strike us with their peculiarity. In a room, they demand a spot, a place, a Stand-Ort, as much as they claim actual space.

'What I find interesting is to use the pretext of making a figure, a head – that is, first, to state the theme – to make something that is concentrated and closed, that does not expect any applause from its environment, but that is present without making any claims on the spectator… I am concerned with the resistance offered to me by the theme and the material', says the sculptor.

Whether it is a male or a female figure, a figure of an animal, in the round or in relief inside half a tree trunk, Stephan Balkenhol always and explicitly offers the simultaneity of (sculptural) object value and (pictorial) representational value. This aiming for synthesis is central to the artist's sculptural programme. In his work, object value and representational value are synchronous. The sculpture's object value is the result of material reality, in which a train of events has led to its creation, while the representational value is an homage to the unattainable idea.

Iconography, in Balkenhol's oeuvre, is not a direct function of its meaning. His iconography, in fact, is mainly a function of the function of sculpture. And that is where this oeuvre derives its meaning. The sculptures do not have a subservient function. They do not convey a message, nor do they personify anything: they are sufficient onto themselves.

Stephan Balkenhol graduated at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg (with Ulrich Rückriem) in 1982; after teaching at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg and the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Städelschule, Frankfurt, he currently teaches at the Akademie der bildenden Künste, Karlsruhe. Balkenhol's work has been featured recently in solo exhibitions at the Musée de Grenoble (2010/11), at the Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2009), at MKM Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg and the Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (2007), and at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2006).

The exhibition will present new sculptures, especially made for the occasion, as well as a new edition of two wonderful bronze sculptures!

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Stephan Balkenhol