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Indepth Arts News:

"Stephan Balkenhol"
2000-06-17 until 2000-08-27
Contemporary Arts Center
Cincinnati, OH, USA

Stephan Balkenhol champions the Everyman through his human and animal forms that are roughly carved from blocks of wood. With his careful attention to material and appreciation of shape, the 43-year-old German artist pays tribute to the time-honored tradition of figurative sculpture in a non-traditional manner. Though his body of work includes drawings and sculptures in a variety of media, wood remains Balkenhol's preferred medium and the human figure his prime subject. With wood, he says, I can achieve a sense of vitality not possible in marble or bronze.

The CAC is exhibiting several new Balkenhol works - all large wood sculptures - which have their première at the CAC. Often shaping his works from a single block of wood, Balkenhol challenges the tradition of slow, methodical wood carving by attacking his work with speed and intuition, and making his figures seem ordinary. Balkenhol says he seeks an expression from which one could imagine all other states of mind ... a starting point for everything else.

In 1972, the teenage Balkenhol attended Dokumenta, an international exhibition of contemporary art held every five years in Kassel, Germany. During his visit, he became attracted to the figurative works of Pop and Photo-Realist painters and sculptors. The experience inspired him to try his hand at carving wood sculptures of human heads. After receiving training in Minimalism and Conceptualism in the early 1980s, Balkenhol returned to producing human forms - clothing them in simple pants and shirts, purposely avoiding any symbolic implications or storytelling.

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, the exhibition will travel to the Bell Gallery at Brown University and the Forum for Contemporary Art in St. Louis, and will be accompanied by a CAC-produced catalog.

All images courtesy Barbara Gladstone Gallery.

IMAGE:
Stephan Balkenhol
Three Men on a Sculpted Pedestal, 2000
Painted Douglas fir
68 x 31 inches diameter
Courtesy Barbara Gladstone Gallery


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