First African-American to hold an MFA from the School of Art and Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1967, Charles Gaines oeuvre is embedded in conceptual art. Born in 1944 in South Carolina, he holds a BA from Jersey City State College where he graduated in 1966. After his first encounters with conceptual artists such as Sol Lewitt, Lawrence Weiner and Mel Buchner, he explored system’s mechanisms and the paradoxes of perception. An artwork to Gaines does need to come from subjectivity and this is the reason why mathematics are employed in his creative process. He was a professor of art the California State University Fresno from 1967 to 1990 and participated in the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 which was curated by the late Okwui Enwezor. Aside from his work on technology and algorithms, he has extensively worked on issues of race in the United States in ways that go beyond sole representation.
Charles Gaines latest body of work revolves around the contradiction between logic and photographs subjectivity. By juxtaposing photos and trees silhouettes he creates works where the systems separating both systems of thought collapses by giving way to a new image. Trees are seen by the artist not as merely living beings but rather components of a larger system.