Balkenhol was born near Kassel, where Documenta (perhaps Europe's biggest international art event) takes place every five years. After seeing the 1972 edition Balkenhol decided to become an artist. In 1976 he entered the Fine Arts Academy in Hamburg, where he studied under sculptor Rückriem. Resisting the then predominant trends of Minimalist and Conceptual Art, Balkenhol decided to seek his niche in the fold of figurative art. Drawing upon the history of sculpture, he sought to reinvent the elementary statuary of the human figure and animals by playing with theme, scale and mode of representation. The dimensions and frontality of Large Pair: Head of a Man and a Woman, hark back to Roman sculpture from the time of Constantine. The colour and hairstyle, nonetheless, give these figures with ordinary but inexpressive features a contemporary allure. The modernity of the group is further accentuated by setting them upon table-like stools rather than pedestals, and the artist's ethical concern for transparency led him to leave signs of his labour by keeping the surface rough and unfinished.
© Stephan Balkenhol / SOCAN (2021)