Band of outsiders - The Art of Kai AlthoffArtForum, Oct, 2002 by Tom Holert
Kai Althoff neither owns nor rents a studio. Not that his production doesn't merit one--galleries in Cologne, Berlin, and New York all show and sell his work. Althoff simply refuses an extra space, unwilling to divide the spheres of work and life. He prefers that his output, even when large in scale and technically complex, be conceived and, if possible, realized in the privacy and relative autonomy (that is, without the busy appurtenances common to most contemporary artists' places of work) of his carefully furnished two-room apartment in the center of Cologne.
This atelier abstinence may be unusual for a successful artist. But Althoff (born 1966), who avoided art school and instead created a persona based on a number of flamboyant, dandyish refusals and a range of multifaceted productions, doesn't fit today's bill of the artist as hyperprofessionalized international road warrior. He answers even less to the desires of a cultural moment whose main criterion of legitimation continues to be "the now." Alrhoff's dense and difficult work, which spans several registers (installation art to literary writing, painting to performance, music to pottery), eschews obvious signifiers of "contemporaneity." He systematically undoes the shackles of the present and retreats into pasts both fictional and actual, even biographical, inhabiting hybrid "cultural histories" of heretofore unimagined sincerity, euphoria, and cruelty. Read the entire articleSource:
History OF Painting - Kai Althoff's memorable, idiosyncratic exhibitionby Jerry Saltz
Unlike his 1997 debut at this gallery-a generic installation of found objects, postcards, Plexiglas panels, paintings, and a maze of gray particleboard-Kai Althoff's second exhibition is as memorable as it is idiosyncratic. Even so, walking into it is disconcerting. Althoff has no trademark style and takes a lot of visual risks. His work can be ugly to look at. Drawings are encased in tacky plastic; the surface of his paintings are often broken and bumpy. The 30 smallish paintings and drawings-which alternate between abstraction and figuration, and are hung in clusters-initially disappear into the looming space of the gallery. Slowly, however, what starts as a fuzzy jumble turns into a tightly woven, if disturbing, exploration of karma and history.
The one sophomoric objet trouvďż˝ sculpture (made of two chairs and a sword) doesn't spoil the proceedings. Using diverse materials such as resin, lacquer, and varnish, Althoff makes paintings with a pearly, nervous touch. His colors are mostly murky; his outlook, ominous yet tender. A half-dozen abstract pieces function nicely as palate cleansers and mood setters. Among them are two so-so hazy rainbow paintings, a couple of Emile Nolde-ish looking landscapes, and one muddy-colored slab I don't know what to make of.Read the entire articleSource: