Stephan Balkenhol's recent exhibition consisted of 12 small female nudes carved from a single block of wawa wood. The figure and pedestal pedestal
In Classical architecture, a support or base for a column, statue, vase, or obelisk. It may be square, octagonal, or circular. A single pedestal may also support a group of columns, or colonnade (see podium). are all of a piece, and seem to be worked from inside the wood--a technique that recalls his 57 penguins from 1991. Additionally, there are two round pictures, two drawings, and a "headless man" that are the same size as the nudes but in which the figures are fully clothed clothe
tr.v. clothed or clad , cloth·ing, clothes
1. To put clothes on; dress.
2. To provide clothes for.
3. To cover as if with clothing. . (The headless man may be a reference to Dionysus of Paris, the third-century French martyr martyr
Person who voluntarily suffers death rather than deny his or her religion. Readiness for martyrdom was a collective ideal in ancient Judaism, notably in the era of the Maccabees, and its importance has continued into modern times. , who came to Paris from Rome and walked to St. Denis Denis, king of Portugal: see Diniz. with his head in his hand after being decapitated de·cap·i·tate
tr.v. de·cap·i·tat·ed, de·cap·i·tat·ing, de·cap·i·tates
To cut off the head of; behead.
[Late Latin d .) Together with three additional life-size female nudes, these works offer a comprehensive view into Balkenhol's world.
This world is varied, but somehow so closed off that one can speak of a family resemblance among the different sculptures. It is not direct commonalities so much as related characteristics that recur; for example, Balkenhol's use of very small male and female figures: the emphasis and development of body, figure, face, head. The work leaves us with an impression of physical and spiritual loneliness and the sense that these human figures have a soul, lending them a higher purpose. There is the question of style, of the influence of his teacher, Ulrich Ruckriem, and his method of allowing simple forms to appear from the raw materials as form-giving factors; there is also the issue of an Expressionist ex·pres·sion·ism
A movement in the arts during the early part of the 20th century that emphasized subjective expression of the artist's inner experiences.
ex·pres heritage, of realistic expression, of formal and thematic reduction. Finally, there is the problem of the relationship between the sculptures and language--Balkenhol's spectrum is strongly focused on the figurative fig·u·ra·tive
a. Based on or making use of figures of speech; metaphorical: figurative language.
b. Containing many figures of speech; ornate.
One sees throughout these sculptures the taming of a raw material--wood--by a direct, emotional, and positive controlling idea. It is expressed through the life of these wooden beings, and their desire to live among us in the real physical world rather than as abstract, material art objects. The friction between these two positions is grounded in the experience of a conceptual, intermediary reality in which the physical, biological, social, and historical reality of contemporary mankind is manifested.