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Charles Gaines

An Evening with Charles Gaines
Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne
18 October 2017, 6 - 7.30pm

Learn about the work of this significant artist who over 40 years has explored the relationship between aesthetics and politics.

Charles Gaines’ groundbreaking work serves as a critical bridge between the first generation conceptualists of the 1960s and 1970s and those artists of later generations exploring the limits of subjectivity and language.

Since the 1970s, Gaines has produced highly formal conceptual works that bring into play disparate artistic and political positions through a disciplined system or set of rules. Gaines’ interest in systems aesthetics can be related to the systematised work of minimalist, Fluxus and early conceptual artists, yet his works differ in their preparedness to engage directly with prosaic, social, political and philosophical propositions. As a result, his work evokes the far-ranging sets of relationships that shape humanitarian concerns and social justice.

Gaines' art has explored the relationship between aesthetics, politics, language and systems. He employs rule-based methodologies to investigate ways in which meaning can be experienced in images and words. Informed by sources as varied as Tantric Buddhist drawings, the systemized work of Hanne Darboven, and John Cage’s notions of indeterminacy, Gaines creates work that often employs plotting and mathematics to organize visual components.

Working serially in progressive and densely layered bodies of works, Gaines explores the interplay between objectivity and interpretation, the systematic and the poetic.

The University of Melbourne


Additional:

Charles Gaines

Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection (group show)
Nasher Museum of Art, Durham
22 February – 15 July 2018

Charles Gaines, Numbers and Trees, Central Park, Series I, Tree #9, 2016. © Charles Gaines. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
Charles Gaines, Numbers and Trees, Central Park, Series I, Tree #9, 2016. © Charles Gaines. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

The Nasher Museum presents a major nationwide touring exhibition that offers a new perspective on the critical contribution that artists of African descent have made to the evolution of abstract art from 1940s to the present. Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection is the first large-scale public exhibition to bring together a lineage of visionary black artists. The exhibition begins in the mid-20th century with Abstract Expressionist Norman Lewis and traces a line to some of today’s most celebrated artists, including Theaster Gates and Lorna Simpson, as well as Mark Bradford, who represents the United States at the Venice Biennale 2017.

Solidary & Solitary draws on the Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida Collection, which started in 1999 with a focus on abstract work by post-war and contemporary African-American artists, from 1945 to the present. In recent years, the collection’s focus has expanded to include artists from Africa and the global African diaspora.

Nasher Museum of Art, Durham


Charles Gaines

Numbers and Trees IV, #2 Xeno (orange) (site-specific installation)
ICA Miami, Miami
1 December 2017 - 4 November 2018

Charles Gaines, Numbers and Trees IV, #2 Xeno (orange), detail, 2017 © ICA Miami, Charles Gaines
Charles Gaines, Numbers and Trees IV, #2 Xeno (orange), detail, 2017 © ICA Miami, Charles Gaines

Charles Gaines’s multi-panel installation activates ICA Miami’s central stairwell, and explores the artist’s approach to seriality through a unique vertical composition.

The artist’s practice places him within the legacy of Conceptualism, evidenced by works such as his gridded, serial images of trees painted on plexiglass that successively plot the shape of trees on one another. Since the 1970s, he has used self-determined rules in order to translate photographic information; he has said: “I use systems in order to provoke the issues around representation.” Here, photographs of trees are translated in various forms of colorful abstraction.

Gaines’s strict method of presenting his works is notably inspired by early Conceptual practices, but he doesn’t utilize the formal rules or use of language and pictures in the same way that artists such as Joseph Kosuth would. What he intends to lay bare is the arbitrariness and dependence on context of all processes of significance. In simpler terms, in the artist’s view, content, meaning, and emotions do not develop naturally, nor are they universal.

ICA Miami, Miami