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Stephan Balkenhol carves larger-than-life human figures from blocks of wood with traditional tools. The resulting sculptures are brought to life by the work of his chisel, creating gradations of highlights and shadows and lightly painted surfaces. Early examples of his work—male or female nudes attached to pedestals—echoed classical Greek statues; their carefully positioned features (the geometry of the lip, the curve of the eyebrow) and extraordinarily life-like relaxed postures belie their apparent simplicity. More recent works feature unremarkably dressed contemporary figures, rendered with enough detail to almost suggest three-dimensional portraiture. However, showing no signs of emotion and bearing no socio-critical references, they retain considerable banality. “I’m perhaps proposing a story and not telling the end, just giving a beginning or fragment. There is still a lot for the spectator to complete...,” Balkenhol explains.

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