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Born: 1966, Cologne, Germany
Lives and Works: Cologne
Kai Althoff's paintings, installations, and mise-en-scènes reflect a struggle with complex and dialectical notions of love and hate, sexuality, and interior and exterior worlds. Linked by an impetus for storytelling through fragmented and opaque narratives, Althoff's works force the viewer into unfamiliar territory through a combination of their emotional appeal, generated by color, form, and deceptively naive gestures, and their enigmatic content. In Untitled (2007) a cavernous red room encloses a tall female doll draped in an orange gown. She gazes at a glossy resin sculpture divided by a churning trench. This "sculpture of degradation," says Althoff, reflects his waking dream of an imposing woman of ambiguous disposition, "wise, knowing, handsome with what they'd call dare-devilishness." She commands the center of a scene rife with sexuality and potentially demonic revelations. Here, the symbolic manifestations of opposing powers, metaphorically pushing and pulling on body and mind, collapse good and evil into a unified and potentially dangerous whole.