Arndt Singapore (Gillman Barracks; BLK 22 Lock Road #01-35; Singapore 108939) Jan 11 – Feb 23, 2014
Like it or not, being in a gallery enclave is an added incentive to stage striking exhibitions; at Gillman Barracks, the open evening during Singapore Art Week means everyone has a new show, and that all are seen at once.
The eponymous solo exhibition by Stephan Balkenhol at Arndt stands cleanly out from the crowd. On display are a series of works hewn from blocks of wood into figures or portraits, and painted. The colours used are flat, bold and in a modest palette – white, black, grey, red, green; this limit allows the rough, satisfying texture of the wood to come through, and reveals the action of the sculptor who chipped away at its resistive bulk.
Balkenhol’s sculptures convey a basic, unpretentious enjoyment of the human figure, and loyalty to it. They are public in character (bold and open in surface and expression), with a certain primal presence. In a commercial environment that can tend towards decorative and non-manual artistic work, this small but solid show comes as a confident surprise.