Stephan Balkenhol is an artist who is well-known for his hand-carved human figures. These tall and anonymous sculptures are usually carved from a single block of material. The people they represent often wear simple clothes, and express a quiet confidence in their posture, with their hands in their pockets or making simple gestures. Balkenhol has won several prestigious public commissions, and his work appears in front of London’s Blackfriars Bridge, and at the entrance to Hamburg Zoo. Balkenhol is originally from Germany. He developed his artistic focus on human figures when studying at the Hamburg School of fine Arts, where he made large wooden sculptures of naked men and women. He also produces animals and hybrid creatures, and works in drawing and photography alongside his sculpture.
When sculpting, Stephan Balkenhol favours the hammer and chisel as his tools, applying them to tree trunks and logs until his figures emerge, with traces of their production very much evident on their surfaces. The wood’s natural grain, knots and cracks form an integral part of the finished artwork. Paint is then used to add detail to the figure. While much of his sculptures are free standing and appear on pedestals, Balkenhol also sculpts contemporary men and women in relief. Their anonymous nature allows the viewer a range of interpretations.