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

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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