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 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.