Berlin/Singapore. Stephan Balkenhol is a prominent artist particularly known for his rough-hewn sculptures, each chiseled from a block of wood and then painted. He has been exhibiting his work for more than 30 years at various galleries and museums around the globe. Balkenhol’s first solo exhibition in Singapore will open on January 11, 2014. The art gallery ARNDT will have several of his latest sculptures and mural reliefs on display until February 23, 2014.
Balkenhol places the focus of this exhibition on the human figure with an elephant head, which hails back to his group of works from the 1990s where he mixed humans and animals in a type of hybrid piece. The sculpture establishes a connection to the Hindu deity Ganesha. This deity stands for the perfect Hindu family, together with his mother Parvati and his father Shiva, the deity with multiple arms. “Ganesha and Shiva are archetypical representations that are also prevalent in Europe. They’re the pop stars of the deities,” remarks Balkenhol. The artist uses his elephant man as a paraphrase for the various reproductions of Ganesha as he draws himself nearer to a culture that is still foreign to him. The exhibition in Singapore has several sculptures and mural reliefs created by Balkenhol surrounding this one central figure.
In addition to larger solo exhibitions (the Deichtorhallen art center in Hamburg, 2008/09; Musée de Grenoble, 2010/11), Balkenhol’s work can increasingly be found in public spaces, too. His piece “Balancing art” has been perched in front of the Axel-Springer building in Berlin since 2009, evoking memories of the fall of the Berlin wall. Balkenhol designed the oversized male torso “Sempre più ...”, also in 2009, for the Forum Romanum in Rome, Italy. It was on display at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria, for the Salzburg Festival in 2011, and in 2012, in the courtyard of the Church St. Elisabeth in Kassel, Germany. The exhibition in Kassel took place at the same time as Documenta 13 and showed a sculpture that was integrated into the church tower and quickly became a permanent fixture in the city landscape. The Richard Wagner monument, which Balkenhol created for the city of Leipzig for the 200th anniversary of the German composer’s birthday in 2013, similarly became a mainstay in the city. The same year, the artist also presented his work at the German ambassador’s history-laden residence in the Palais Beauharnais in Paris.
Stephan Balkenhol was born in Fritzlar, Germany, in 1957. Since 1993 he has been a professor of sculpture at the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe. He lives and works between Kassel, Karlsruhe, Berlin, and Meisenthal, France.