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The Art Portfolio of Charles Gaines

A pixellated tree in complementary coloursNumbers and Trees, Central Park, Series I: Tree #7, Katelyn, acrylic, inkjet print and plexiglass

Charles Gaines is a California artist who has spent much of his life producing drawings, installations, and media artworks that deliberately remove evidence of the artist’s hand. Gaines’ works are firmly conceptual, and unconcerned with era-specific political or social implications.

An acrylic and inkjet work depicting a treeNumbers and Trees, Central Park, Series 1: Tree #8, Kristen, acrylic, inkjet print, plexiglass

I really like the way Gaines uses dense grids of coloured lines and squares. These shapes intersect and overlap in his two-dimensional works to form a truly unique aesthetic. The artist’s images often seem like dense pointillism or raised textures from far away.


Gaines’ parents were a construction worker and a seamstress, and it’s interesting to think about how these practices may have influenced Gaines’ appreciation for patterns, layering, and an aesthetic that celebrates precision and repetition. The artist himself has said that his works are partially inspired by Zen Buddhist methods of art-making, such as mandalas, where the process of drawing or painting becomes its own form of meditation. Gaines teaches at CalArts and counts Mark Bradford among his former students.

A close-up view of a work by Charles GainesNumbers and Trees, Central Park, Series 1: Tree #8, Kristen (detail), acrylic, inkjet print, plexiglass

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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