New York

Stephan Balkenhol

Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

Stephan Balkenhol revives the medieval genre of painted, hand-carved wooden sculpture in order to create contemporary allegories. Like religious figures in cathedrals, his Urfiguren are public monuments with a moral message and a startling, peculiarly morbid vivacity. In Untitled (Three Small Men) [all works 1997], the figures strike poses that represent “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” The parallel Untitled (Three Large Men) shows three good men. The first stands at attention with his arms at his sides and his legs pressed tightly together; the second at ease, his legs apart, his arms bent at the elbow; and the third, completely relaxed, one hand in his pocket. (The facial expressions show a parallel shift—from obedient attention through detached recognition to matter-of-fact acknowledgment of an invisible authority figure.) All are dressed in white shirts with open collar and

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