In his work, Balkenhol draws on a wide array of references. He is influenced by traditional sculpting techniques from Roman and Egyptian times as well as figurative imagery found in churches. Balkenhol's stable medium is wood. From a distance, his sculptures seem sensual and sturdy, however, on closer inspection, their splintered and chisel-marked surfaces suggest a raw fragility. Whether sculpting humans, animals, or scenes from his imagination, there is always something strange and enticing about his mute, reserved and peacefully contemplative figures. There is also a certain playfulness in Balkenhol's practice, as he humorously inverts the minimalist desire for an art of pure geometric forms by using coloured pedestals to elevate his figures.
For his show at Stephen Friedman Gallery, Balkenhol has created sculptures and wall reliefs which are infused with architectural and naval references. In these works, there is a tension between the intimate features and humorous characteristics of his figures and their anonymous, impenetrable nature.
Recent solo exhibitions include Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany; Le Rectangle and Goethe Institute, Lyon, France in 2003; Begegnungsstätte Kleine Synagoge Erfurt, Erfurt in 2002; Kunstforum Baloise, Basel, Switzerland; Centre Galego de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago de Compostela, Spain and Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig, Germany in 2001. Recent group exhibitions include a 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.