Charles Gaines - Galerie Max Hetzler

Opening: 26 November, 6 – 8pm

Galerie Max Hetzler is delighted to announce Grids: Numbers and Trees III, and Palm Trees II, the gallery’s first exhibition with Charles Gaines.

Los Angeles - based artist Charles Gaines has engaged in conceptual art for four decades. Critical thinking is central to his practice that includes photographs and drawings plotted out on grids. His work is informed by various sources, from John Cage, Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings, German conceptual artist Hanne Darboven, to the esoteric philosophy of Tantric Buddhism, Marxism, semiotics and post-colonial theories.

Gaines has found systematic ways of “generating imagery”, working in series and plotting numbers on grids, thus questioning representation. His approach is a formal way of breaking down images into serial patterns. Gaines is interested in the gap that emerges between the systems and the charted subjects by analogy on the one hand and with rational thoughts of perception.

The exhibition features two series of works. Numbers and Trees started in 1985, more than ten years after the Walnut Tree Orchard series (1975-2014) where Charles Gaines first studied the tree as a subject. Gaines had initially painted trees on acrylic sheets but was not satisfied with the result as he wanted to find a way to take the ego out of the painting. Hence his aim at looking for a systematic means of “shaping a form”, at times layering the sheets over black-and-white landscape pictures. The trees are a combination of differently painted squares that are numbered according to their location on the sheet. For the Central Park series, Gaines started by photographing trees at this specific location. The silhouette of the tree is plotted on a grid that has been printed on a Plexiglas sheet layered over the black and white landscape pictures. The branches are delimited through the use of intensely coloured squares and numbers are not visible from afar. Only a closer look reveals the different digits and encourages the viewer to participate and reflect upon the representational system.
The series successively plots the shape of trees of different hue on one another, moving further away from a singular tree and closer to a tree as a generic type.

The Palm Trees series started in 2015. As with Number and Trees, the shape of a tree is plotted in numbers on a grid, further exploring the serialization of a set of analogous images. The series
consists of four ink of paper drawings orgininally based on photographs of palm trees, each unique.

Once again, the tree appears to be almost a generic subject for a number of artists. From Cezanne and Mondrian to recent paintings by Albert Oehlen or the recurrent ones in Ai Weiwei’s practice.

Charles Gaines (*1944, Charleston, USA) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Gaines teaches at the California Institute of the Arts. Solo exhibitions include a survey exhibition at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2014, travelled to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles in 2015); Pitzer College Art Gallery and Pomona College Museum of Art in Claremont, California (2012). Group exhibitions include Venice Biennale, Venice (2015 & 2007); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015) ; Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011) and UCLA Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011). Charles Gaines has been granted the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Galerie der Stadt Esslingen at Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany among others.

Further exhibitions and fair participations:


21 January – 4 March 2017            

André Butzer
11 March – 22 April 2017                


Zhang Wei
5 November – 23 December 2016
Bleibtreustrasse 45, Berlin-Charlottenburg

Konstantin Grcic
5 November – 23 December 2016           
Goethestrasse 2/3, Berlin-Charlottenburg


Art Basel Miami Beach
1 – 4 December 2016                

For further information, please contact:

Eline Thirion-Berg
presse(at) +33 1 57 40 60 80