LOS ANGELES—Hauser & Wirth announces worldwide representation of Charles Gaines, the Los Angeles-based artist and educator lauded for his contributions to the evolution of conceptual art and the emergence of the LA art scene. Gaines holds a unique place in the narrative of modern and contemporary art: A pioneer of Conceptual Art, he has since the 1970s been one of the few African-American artists to eschew overt political expressionism in favor of abstraction, aesthetics, and philosophy as tools to explore perception, objectivity, identity, and relationships as political issues. His exquisitely original and diverse practice spans photography, drawing, installation, and music in a rigorous investigation of systems, cognition, and language that has unfolded over more than five decades.
Born in 1944 in Charleston, South Carolina, Gaines began his career as a painter, earning his MFA from the School of Art and Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1967. By the end of the 1960s, Gaines became dissatisfied with his early work, saying, ‘What I was doing was completely arbitrary. I didn’t feel that it was an expression of myself at all. So I searched for alternatives.’ In the 1970s, Gaines’ art shifted dramatically in response to what he would later call ‘the awakening.’ He discovered alternative strategies of art making from two sources: one was a book on Tantric Buddhist art that revealed to him an art practice that was not based on the idea of the expressive subject, and the other was Henri Focillon’s ‘The Life of Forms in Art’ as well as George Kubler’s ‘The Shape of Time’, which helped him understand the concept of chance and indeterminacy in a new and different way. Gaines’ epiphany materialized in a series called Regression (1973 – 1974), in which he explored the use of mathematical and numeric systems to create soft, numbered marks penciled on a grid, with each drawing built upon the calculations of the last. This methodical approach would carry the artist into the subsequent decades of his artistic journey, from groundbreaking exhibitions in the 1970s at Leo Castelli and John Weber galleries, to his long, fruitful relationships with Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, and Susan Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Gaines will continue to have a relationship with Galerie Max Hetzler in Germany.
Hauser & Wirth will hold its first exhibition with Gaines in Los Angeles in 2019.