Mann mit blauem Hemd. 2003. Wooden sculpture. Wawa wood, partly with colors. 240 x 60 x 40 cm (94.4 x 23.6 x 15.7 in).
• No other contemporary sculptor has created such an unmistakable body of plastic work. • Unique object with a high recognition value. • The Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg shows a comprehensive exhibition from October 22, 2020 to February 28, 2021.
PROVENANCE: Private collection Southern Germany.
LITERATURE: Bilder der Seele. Kunst nach 1945, Collection Serviceplan, 2015, p. 395. "I believe that basically every account of a human figure is of existential nature alone because it brings up questions like 'who am I?', 'what am i doing here on Earth?', 'how do I see, think and feel?'." Stephan Balkenhol in an interview with Heinz-Norbert Jocks, Kunstforum, Band 144, 1999, Gespräche mit Künstlern, p. 272.
Balkenhol's work strives to detach figurative sculpture from its political, religious and allegorical appropriations and to reinvent it. The quests for new ways of formulating and giving meaning to everyday material that German artists have been on since the 1980s is also clearly manifested in Balkenhol's work. The artist studied sculpting in the class of the strictly minimalist artist Ulrich Rückriem in Hamburg. Since around 1982 the human figure and the head, often larger than life, determined his work. Balkenhol uses traditional tools to work on wood, which he sees as a living substance. The sculptor‘s physical work remains visible on the sculpture. The impression of the apparent incompleteness remains immanent and is precisely planned. The archetype of the man with black trousers and white shirt earned Balkenhol international recognition. He compensates the seemingly average character of his figures with unusual dimensions: sometimes the figures are larger than life, sometimes reduced on pedestals four times their own size so that they remain at eye level with the viewer. The young man presents himself casually in the typical Balkenhol uniform, shirt and black trousers, his hand loosely on the waistband. A figure from the present time, very lively and up-to-date. Standing above the viewer, it is based on a stool. An unusual elevation, as most bases are pillars or columns reminiscent of the wooden trunks they were carved from. Stephan Balkenhol's figures fascinate us exactly because of their simplicity and practicality. They are strange and familiar to us at the same time. Most of the time his characters just stand there, doing nothing. Objects are rarely attached to them, neither do they pose. Their main job is to be present, casual and natural. But they also seem strangely remote, their gaze can‘t be caught, an aura of the untouchable surrounds them. Stephan Balkenhol himself says: "My sculptures tell no stories. There is something mysterious hidden in them. It is not my job to reveal it, but that of the viewer to discover it." [SM]