Kai Althoff

Kai Althoff
Untitled, 2001
Pen, wax crayon, pencil on paper and epoxy resin on board
79 x 72 cm

Kai Althoff
Untitled, 2001
Boat varnish, watercolour, pen and pencil on board
50 x 40cm

Untitled shows a group of black-clad men gathered around a table, immediately suggestive of conspiracy and covert sexual tension. Kai Althoff portrays the intrigue in the paint itself: yellow confronting black, the tenuous texture of the fabric and the oblique fly-on-the-ceiling angle which compresses the subjects into their opposing directions. His all-male cast of characters gives credence to the corruptibility and heroism of youth. Pictured with an authoritative voyeurism, Kai Althoff infers a complicit approval to their coven.

Kai Althoff
Dei Handi, 2003
2003, paint and ink on board
11 x 21cm

Incorporating all the lush patterning and anthropomorphic grace of art deco, Althoff’s genre painting draws equally from comic illustration and graffiti. Pretty boys with trendy haircuts, designer jackets, and mobile phones are celebrated with a timeless essence. Painted on brown paper, Dei Handi utilises crafty and transient material to achieve an historical authority and authenticity of the avant-garde. Althoff’s contemporary scenes expose the same dark mores as his historical fables: mob mentality fed by bravado and peer pressure. Within the innocence of a discotheque, brews a condition ripe for barbarism.

Kai Althoff
Untitled, 1997
pen, pencil and tape on board
186 x 100cm

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.

Kai Althoff
Untitled, 2000
Lacquer, paper, watercolour and varnish on canvas
50 x 50cm

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
Winter, 2002
Watercolour, metallic paint and varnish on canvas
60 x 40cm

In Winter, 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.

Kai Althoff
Untitled, 1999
watercolour, pen and pencil on board
25.5 x 24cm

Kai Althoff’s portrait is rendered with rudimentary simplicity: shape, tone and colour create a totality of exquisite presence. Untitled boasts a contained elegance, deceptive in its complexity. Sexualised with reference to Egon Schiele, Untitled is an overture of dandyism. Kai Althoff tenders this painting with the contrived scrutiny of the most discerning connoisseur. Haughty and self-possessed, Kai Althoff’s boy is a perfect specimen. Both ruffian and swan song, he encapsulates the duplicity and danger of idealised beauty.


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