Stephen Balkenhol’s Couple is located high above street level, prompting us to look up. The individual sculptures of a man and a woman are set apart but are clearly a couple. Each carved figure is painted with a simple and economic range of colours to highlight facial features and clothing. The male sculpture is dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, referencing local office workers, and is placed on a tall plinth, while the female figure is a short distance away on the same eye level, positioned on a low roof.
Commissioned by More London Estates (now London Bridge City).
Stephan Balkenhol is a contemporary German artist known for his painted statues of the human form. His totem-like sculptures of everyday people are reminiscent of both folk art and medieval sculpture, and his process advances the longstanding tradition of woodcarving in Germany. He uses a variety of woods, including poplar and Douglas fir, and crafts each work from single blocks using hammers, power saws, and chisels, working with speed and retaining the chisel marks.
Connections: Balkenhol has completed many public commissions throughout his career, including Head of a Man / Figure on a Buoy, a 1992 site-specific installation by Blackfriars Bridge, not far from here. A monumental head was placed on an obsolete bridge pillar and downstream a smaller, life-sized figure was attached to a buoy.