Kai Althoff was born on 1966 in Cologne, Germany, Currently lives and works in Cologne. Through painting, Kai Althoff engages with the spiritualism of masculine identity as a metaphor for reconciliation with German history. Often articulated with a homoerotic subtext, Althoff portrays the male domain as psychologically complex, where power politics of violence, sensuality, vulnerability and enticement are played out against backdrops of war, religion and pub-land. Borrowing stylistically from art history, Kai Althoff’s work possesses a timeless quality, where narratives are suggested with confessional intimacy. Rendered with exquisite sensitivity, Althoff uses beauty to seduce the viewer, encouraging moral complicity.
Kai Althoff’s paintings of Prussian soldiers flirt with a homoerotic subtext. His decorated brotherhood thinly veils their carnal motives under the guise of authority. He paints his violence with a sensual tenderness, rendered in the creaminess of folk tale fantasy. Kai Althoff's soldiers are drawn with delicate stylised dandyism. Conveyed with refined nobility, debauchery and humanity become indistinguishable; cruelty is portrayed with an acute tenderness. Flattened to an almost decorative motif, Althoff’s scene reads like theatre. Reminiscent of Georg Grosz's depictions of Berlin’s WW1 underworld, deplorable action is staged for consensual pleasure, a chic poster glamorising the (un)desirable.
In winter, Kai Althoff uses a variety of media to add an unexpected quality to his graphic composition. Approaching the painting itself as collage, Althoff flaunts difference of style in each separate element to create tension and possible narratives within the unified whole. Dark dream-like scenes adopt a painterly quality of reverence: a crouching figure is painted over crumpled aluminium foil, creating both a geological texture and reference to gilded religious icons. Sheltered like a grotto by a hard-edged militaristic design, punctuated by photographic images of stylised masculinity, they feed the painting with spirituality. Layers of ephemeral hues and high-gloss varnish create a transcendental illusiveness, perpetually flitting between gravitas and disco chic.
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
Kai Althoff’s paintings almost appear to be from another time, with references ranging from avant-garde collage to fairytale illustration. His use of modern materials such as resin, tape and tinfoil, lend a distinctive contemporary feel to his work. Kai Althoff’s portrait is rendered with rudimentary simplicity: shape, tone and colour create a totality of exquisite presence.
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