‘Ohne Titel (Mann und Tänzerin)’

Stephan Balkenhol

bronze and enamel paint

For the German artist Stephan Balkenhol, people are central to his works of art. Besides making images, he makes reliefs, drawings, and serigraphs. His roughly chopped and colorfully painted wood sculptures have become his trademark. Stephan Balkenhol carves life-sized human figures from blocks of wood using traditional tools. The finished sculptures are brought to life through the work of his chisel, creating gradations of highlights and shadows and lightly painted surfaces. Early examples of his work – male or female nudes attached to pedestals – echo classical Greek imagery; their carefully positioned features like the geometry of the lip, the curve of the eyebrow, and extraordinarily lifelike relaxed postures belie their apparent simplicity.

‘Mann und Tänzerin’ are made of bronze and are therefore suitable for outdoor presentation; the predilection for the wooden structure is clearly visible. They are inconspicuously dressed contemporary figures, rendered with enough detail to suggest nearly three-dimensional portraits. However, they show no signs of emotion and contain no social-critical references, but retain a considerable banality. “Maybe I propose a story and don’t tell the end, just giving a beginning or fragment. A lot still needs to be done for the spectator.”  explains Balkenhol. But the staring man looking at the dancing woman forces you as an art-viewer to watch and think about it, however simple the scene may seem.

* thanks to: Courtesy Deweer Gallery Estate, Otegem, & Keteleer Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium