Afghanistan – Historia perpetua, oil on canvas, 200x1450cm

In this picture for example – „Afghanistan – Historia perpetua“ – (that is, ever-perennial history), the whole background seems at first to consist of a wild jumble of people. The things surrounding the main figure also seem at first to be there more by chance. But if one looks closer, one realizes that there are clear relations in shape. The main figure stands in clear colors in front of the ground clouded in color and consisting of an infinite number of people. Clean colors show up in two more places – to the left at the margin in the middle and at the bottom on the parapet with the two blue cloths. So the gaze is deliberately directed from the figure’s middle to the left und then down und then back up. Such a use of deliberate compository devices can be found in all the artist’s pictures – our gaze is guided through a picture completely naturally, and normally we don’t notice it while looking at the picture.

But in this picture one can also very well recognize a new, a very political tendency in the works of Kaikaoss. Even without knowing the title one would see that the depiction is evidently a depiction of his home – namely Afghanistan. But let us look at the picture in detail.


In the picture in vertical, very high format, in the upper area, a man is sitting on a kind of throne – although, if one looks closer, one sees that the man does not have a head. Where it should be, there is an empty space – however, the hat or cap (in Google I read that it’s called a „Pakol“) is located as if carried by a head – one can clearly look inside it from below.

The headless man is wearing a striped gown in a bright red, green and blue, underneath that a type of shirt made of a gray fabric. In the neckline there are rolled-up papers – perhaps a kind of newspaper. Below he is obviously wearing velvet pants in a soft grayish-purple. All fabrics look very precious and soft.

His bare feet are in sandals, his left hand rests on the back of the chair or throne, in his right hand he is holding a paper plane ready to fly – or be thrown. On his right thigh there is a container, behind it a kind of scroll, but probably also made of metal, in front of his knee a golden shield. Next to it, on a simple stool, there is an old-fashioned telephone. This headless person is probably a very important individual – something like a ruler.


Below and behind this main person there is a mass of people almost impossible to overlook – but two horses are to be seen. As said before, this „mass“ is painted in very clouded colors, so that one must look very closely to recognize details.

The people there seem to belong in different times – one sees old helmets – even Pickelhauben, like earlier warriors might have worn them. The rider on the horse could even be a knight from a very early era. Lances and spears project upwards, one man is even holding a sickle in his hand. To the upper left, however, there are also modern weapons like machine guns. The men in the foreground are carrying ammunition belts over their shoulders. This way, the second title is also understandable – „Historia perpetua“ – Afghanistan is a country where the horrible history of the fights always repeats itself.


The paper planes fly over the figures..... you can see a bomb and – if I see it correctly – an old woman, to the left of the shield, with a haggard face, perhaps screaming – but she might also be an image of death. She resembles Munch’s „Scream“.

Apart from the main figure, nearly everything is painted in differently darkened shades of red – the only exceptions are the intensely blue cloth to the left and the piece of fabric lying on the parapet all the way in the foreground. As said before, they make up a connection over the mass of people to the central person.


So, over this whole human throng, the headless president sits enthroned – he sits there majestically, but he is evidently on very thin ground. His position is anything but safe – it only takes a few people who are carrying him now to step away, and he will fall down and be lost in the crowd. But to keep that from happening, he sends out his planes that look so light and harmless and the people „down below“ can do nothing about.

-Dr. Rainer Grimm