Distributed August 11, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mary Jo Curtis

Preview set for Sept. 7

Bell Gallery to present recent work of Stephan Balkenhol

The recent work of German-born artist Stephan Balkenhol will be on exhibit at the David Winton Bell Gallery Sept. 9 through Oct. 29, 2000. Balkenhol is best known for his carved wooden sculptures of people and animals.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The David Winton Bell Gallery will present Stephan Balkenhol, an exhibition of the artist’s recent work, from Sept. 9 through Oct. 29, 2000.

Balkenhol will give an informal talk during an exhibit preview scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 7, 2000, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the List Art Center auditorium. The event is open to the public and will be followed by a reception in the lobby.

Balkenhol is a German-born, internationally established artist best known for his figurative sculptures depicting people and animals. Carved from single blocks of wood and hand-painted in a rough manner, his figures are “raw, bold depictions of anonymous people encountered in everyday life, rather than idealized portrayals,” according to Bell Gallery curator Vesela Sretenovic.

“Balkenhol’s sculptures are not narrative in any explicit way, but rather suggestive of a certain story, which, with its recognizable characters or situations, seems at once familiar and strange,” says Sretenovic. Or, to put it in Balkenhol’s own words, “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.”

Although Balkenhol’s artwork includes printmaking and drawing, wood carving is the medium he chooses as his primary means of expression. “With wood I can achieve a sense of vitality not possible in marble or bronze,” he says.

The Stephan Balkenhol exhibition features free-standing sculptures and reliefs in wood, as well as some prints and drawings on wooden panels. Although certain works date to 1997, the majority were produced in 2000 especially for this traveling exhibition, which was organized by the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, in collaboration with the Bell Gallery and the Forum for Contemporary Art in St. Louis, Mo. A 52-page catalog with color illustrations accompanies the exhibition.

Balkenhol was trained at the Hamburg School of Fine Arts (1976-82), known for its minimalist and conceptualist profile. He was strongly influenced by the work of pop and photo-realist artists such as Malcolm Morley, Richard Estes, Richard Artschwager and Duane Hanson – with whom he became first acquainted at the 1972 Dokumenta in Kassel, Germany. Inspired by their figurations, Balkenhol attempted to find his own interpretation of the human figure by employing a caricature-like style and humorous tone. To this day, his work celebrates ordinary people with serenity and wit.

Balkenhol lives and works in Karlsruhe, Germany, and Meisenthal, France. He has exhibited widely at galleries in Europe and the United States, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian Institution (1995), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Saatchi Collection in London (1996), and the Arts Club of Chicago (1998), among many others.

The exhibition and all events associated with it are free and open to the public. The David Winton Bell Gallery is on the ground floor of List Art Center, Brown University, 64 College St. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For further information, call 401-863-2932.