À travers l’arbre (Through the tree)
Pourtalès Park – Strasbourg
The sculpture is like a chimera : the man-stag from a fantasized mythology and the woman-fox are trans-historic in that they are wearing contemporary clothes. The figures harmoniously combine postures from the sculptural tradition with modern attitudes, such as the hand nonchalently posed in a trouser pocket.
Balkenhol sculpts ‘‘silent’’ individuals in permanent internal restraint rather than psychological outburst. This absence of psychological depth is all the more accentuated by the tangible quasi-absence of sculptural depth, it is no accident if the figures are not carved in relief in relation to the neutral blue background but are etched into the surface. On the contrary these figures reveal themselves in trying to emerge from the surface. They do not rest on the ground and float in the space of representation in the same way they float in a rather vague temporality.
“My sculptures don’t tell stories. There’s something secret. It’s not for me to reveal it but for the spectator to discover it”.
Although the title might invite us into the intimacy of a tree trunk, the device set up by the artist seems to impose a certain distance, as if we were party to some exchanges to which we were not invited. These figures oscillate between divinity and humanity. But attraction gains the upper hand to the point of inviting us to join them, in the awareness that the tree trunk offers a little path to follow.
1995 – Etched and painted African rosewood – height 240 cm – diameter 220 cm