Stephan Balkenhol is a contemporary German sculptor. He studied from 1976 to 1982 at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg with Ulrich Rückriem and others. Afterwards he was a teacher at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt. Since 1992 he has been professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. In his service studio in Karlsruhe his students have the opportunity to comment on his work.
Balkenhol lives and works in Karlsruhe, Berlin, Meisenthal in Lorraine and Kassel.
Balkenhol works in sculptures, reliefs, drawings and graphic techniques such as lithography, woodcut and silkscreen. His roughly hewn and colorfully painted wooden sculptures are his trademark. He depicts people, animals and architecture, sometimes in surreal combinations. The human being is the focus of his works. He develops basic types, which he varies in many ways. His most famous type of figure is the man with black trousers and white shirt. Clothing and posture of the depicted people point to the present. They do not show clear emotions, they seemingly look into the void or at - for the viewer - unknown points. The figures remain distant, anonymous and enigmatic.
Wood is Balkenhol's most important working material. Soft types of wood such as poplar or wawahood allow the artist to precisely carve out the faces of his figures. In most sculptures, the figure is worked out of the wood in such a way that the figure and base remain connected as one piece. The material remains clearly recognizable in his works, and the processing also remains visible in the rough structure underneath the colouring. Material and visible traces of the working process are thus part of the artwork.