Stemming from his decades-long artistic practice and influential teaching career, Charles Gaines opens his exhibition in New York with a public lecture on the nature of how systems and chance relate to political discourse and the abstraction of objects.
The lecture will respond directly to the works on view in ‘Charles Gaines. Southern Trees’ and 'Moving Chains', Gaines's monumental kinetic sculpture on Governors Island, to underscore how he has continued to forge new and unexplored paths within an innovative conceptual framework.
This event is free, however, reservations are required.
About Charles Gaines
One of the most important conceptual artists working today, ‘Charles Gaines. Southern Trees’ is the artist’s first in the city since 2018 and spans two floors of the 22nd street location. The show emphasizes the extraordinary evolution of Gaines’s complex practice, demonstrating how he has continued to forge new and unexplored paths within the innovative conceptual framework of two of his most acclaimed and important series, Numbers and Trees and Walnut Tree Orchard.
A pivotal figure in the field of Conceptual Art, Charles Gaines’s body of work engages formulas and systems that interrogate relationships between the objective and the subjective realms. Using a generative approach to create series of works in a variety of mediums, he has built a bridge between the early conceptual artists of the 1960s and 1970s and subsequent generations of artists pushing the limits of conceptualism today.
About ‘Charles Gaines. Southern Trees’
This January, Hauser & Wirth will present ‘Southern Trees’, the gallery’s first New York exhibition with distinguished American artist Charles Gaines. One of the most important conceptual artists working today, the show explores the evolution of Gaines’s complex practice, demonstrating how he has continued to forge new paths within the innovative framework of two of his most acclaimed series, Numbers and Trees and Walnut Tree Orchard. The exhibition’s title, ‘Southern Trees,’ alludes directly to the 150-year-old pecan trees pictured in the new works, and symbolically to the opening lyrics of ‘Strange Fruit,’ Billie Holiday’s haunting protest anthem from the 1930s.
About ‘Moving Chains’
For his first major public art commission, presented in 2022 by Creative Time, Governors Island Arts, and Times Square Arts, artist Charles Gaines unveiled a new series of monumentally-scaled works that contend with ongoing legacies of colonialism and slavery in the United States of America.
‘Moving Chains,’ which will open again in March of 2023, is a monumental 110-foot long kinetic sculpture built from steel and sustainably harvested Sapele, commonly referred to as African Mahogany, a tree native to West Africa. Created by Charles Gaines with collaborating architects TOLO Architecture, the sculpture, which people may enter and walk through, contains nine custom made chains weighing over 1,600 pounds each running its length overhead. Eight of the chains are representative of the pace of the currents in New York Harbor, while a ninth central chain moves more quickly, recalling the pace of ship and barge traffic that has traveled the city’s waterways for centuries.
The overall effect of the weight and motion of the chains produces a rhythmic, undulating loop, evocative of the sounds of New York Harbor at the entrance to the Hudson River, known to the area’s Indigenous residents the Lenape as ‘Mahicantuck’, the river that runs two ways. Starting during the Dutch and British occupations, this waterway near present-day lower Manhattan would become an economic pillar of the transatlantic slave trade and seed the system of racial capitalism foundational to the United States. Facing the Statue of Liberty — an international symbol of benevolence and human rights, distinguished by the abolitionist iconography of a broken shackle and chain at her right foot — ‘Moving Chains’ calls attention to the nation’s economic, judicial, and political frameworks that continue the legacy of slavery today.