Balkenhol is well known for reintroducing the human figure to contemporary art during a climate when Minimalist and Conceptual trends prevailed. He is influenced by a long lineage of woodcut, in particular traditional Nordic techniques as well as German Expressionist methods. While Balkenhol's choice of wood has varied, his treatment of the surface has remained raw and spontaneous throughout his career. This has allowed his work to remain simultaneously fragile, strong and elegant.
Balkenhol's sculptures often depict caricatures of the everyday, generic man, modest in garb but stoic in stance. His figures, carved from a single wood block and often incorporating a plinth, have a monumental quality. Balkenhol's sculptures and reliefs can be seen as commemorations of the common man and his existence.
For his show at Stephen Friedman Gallery, Balkenhol has created new sculpture which continues his exploration into figuration. Here there is evidence of a new regard for gestural qualities. His work has also diversified to include new subjects such as architecture and industry. Balkenhol's practice continues to ignite the political and social debate surrounding identity politics in today's modern world.
Solo exhibitions include Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany; Le Rectangle and Goethe Institute, Lyon, France in 2003 and Begegnungsstätte Kleine Synagoge Erfurt, Erfurt in 2002. Recent group exhibitions include Ten Year Anniversary Exhibition, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; the sculpture project at More London; Durchgehend geöffnet at Kunsthalle Baden-Baden and Sammlung Frieder, Burda Baden-Baden, Germany in 2003; Avant que la mer fut au monde, Rochechouart portoit les Ondes, Musée Départemental d'Art Contemporain de Rochechouart, France and Das Tier in mir, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany in 2002.