Charles Gaines: Southern Trees
26 January – 1 April 2023
Hauser & Wirth New York
Hauser & Wirth presents ‘Southern Trees,’ the gallery’s very first New York exhibition with distinguished American artist Charles Gaines and his 1st in the metropolis considering that 2018. Just one of the most crucial conceptual artists operating currently, the show explores the evolution of Gaines’s intricate exercise, demonstrating how he has ongoing to forge new paths inside the progressive framework of two of his most acclaimed series, Figures and Trees and Walnut Tree Orchard.
The exhibition’s title, ‘Southern Trees,’ alludes right to the 150-yr-aged 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.
The picture of the tree has been central to Gaines’s follow considering the fact that he initially began the Walnut Tree Orchard collection in the 1970s. In ‘Southern Trees,’ Gaines advancements the series employing pecan trees photographed on a check out to Boone Corridor Plantation in Charleston County, South Carolina––not significantly from exactly where the artist was born and lived till he was five yrs outdated. Presented along with a key early instance from the walnut tree series, eight new triptych works on paper revisit and broaden upon this important first entire body of perform.
‘Walnut Tree Orchard: Set M’ (1977), on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Artwork, New York, pairs a black and white photograph of a walnut tree with two drawings derived from it––an ink outline of the same tree and a grayscale grid that plots all of the trees involved in the collection up till that point.
The most recent collection, titled Pecan Trees (2022), begins similarly, with a stark black and white photograph of a tree nevertheless in the drawings that accompany it, Gaines has loaded in the define of the tree with solid ink and utilized lively watercolors to plot all the past trees in the final drawing. These successive modifications to scale, colour and qualifications exhibit Gaines’s principle that even though ‘the program has never ever transformed, the outcome is often distinctive.’
This extends to Gaines’s new Quantities and Trees Plexiglas sequence, which start out with the artist assigning each tree a distinctive shade and numbered grid––breaking down the composition into personal cells that reflect the complete sort of the tree depicted in the photograph on the surface. Nevertheless, Gaines reverses his signature process in this new collection by overlaying the forms of the trees 1 at a time and in development on the back panel of the perform alternatively than on the front.
He then brings the photograph to the surface by printing an enlarged element of the most a short while ago added tree on the work’s Plexiglas floor. This solution provides the tree’s shadowy branches to the foreground, highlighting its textural facts and contrasting tones while obscuring the vibrant numbered grids painted beneath it. This reversal generates a radically unique result, igniting a much more somber, nonetheless stirring, response to the get the job done as the austere branches, dripping with moss, dominate the picture.
Designed by meticulously thought of programs alternatively than by way of the artist’s own imagination or intuition, these new operates clear away the artist’s subjectivity by next a set of self-decided procedures and processes. The works connect with into query equally the aim mother nature of the trees and the subjective pure and content human actions that encompass them. The fastidious layering process allows Gaines to expose the variations concerning the trees’ styles where the sorts do not align. These distinctions, highlighted by the artist’s techniques, advise the arbitrary character of other created programs in our society––such as politics, gender, race and class.
©2023 Charles Gaines, Fredrik Nilsen, Hauser & Wirth
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