Collection 1

April 29(Fri., Holiday) - July 18(Mon., Holiday), 2005

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Figurative Art since 1970

As it turned toward abstraction at the beginning of the 20th century, Western art's link to the ordinary, visible world grew increasingly weak, and becoming overly fragmented and analytical, a tendency to emphasize the conceptual took hold. By the 1970s, this process had played itself out. But in the interim, European figurative sculpture in particular had dwindled.

It was at this point, in the 1970s, that Stephan Balkenhol was a university student. In right of the simple, dense art that was receiving recognition at the time, Balkenhol decided he would like to create art that was more appropriate to the era in which he was living. Thus, he began to explore the possibilities of figurative sculpture, which at the time was completely ignored. What emerged were wooden sculptures of people and animals, and reliefs depicting landscapes. These works can be seen as the culmination of Balkenhol's reexamination of thousands of years of European sculpture from ancient Egypt to the beginning of the 20th century, and as wooden sculptures and reliefs that adopt the lessons of minimal art, are without precedent.

Figurative works from the 1970s to the present are being presented as "Collection 1." Although the works are figurative, they are not merely intended to complete with reality. In the atmosphere of peace and prosperity, the rise of democratization and the development of scientific technology that came about following postwar reconstruction, each artist, while breathing in the air of the era, has attempted to create work that deals with important issues and personal interests.

The content that each artist attempts to express is as rich in diversity at contemporary society, which defies easy explanation; it varies according to a host of factors such the individual's values, environment and generation as well as the year that a work was produces. The variety is just as evident when viewed from a technical perspective - not only are there examples of traditional media like bronze sculpture, oil painting and copper engraving, but there are also works that make use of techniques that previously unknown in art. Photographic technology, with its ability to accurately replicate reality, has a variety of uses, making it an important symbol of figurative expression in our time. And over the past ten years or so, the wide range of figurative works as a whole seem to have shed some light on this period we call the contemporary.

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