Featured review of the Charles Gaines exhibition in Artillery by Christopher Michno

Charles Gaines
Pomona College Museum of Art and Pitzer College Galleries

Positioned between evocative and elusive, "In the Shadow of Numbers: Charles Gaines, Selected Works from 1975—2012" wends through Gaines' explorations of language, codes and systems. Jointly exhibited at the Pomona College Museum of Art and the Pitzer College Galleries, this survey offers a view into the tightly-packed and remarkably expansive philosophical inquiry that comprises Gaines' artistic output.

As much as Gaines has attempted to eliminate subjectivity, his conceptual practice elicits a responsive desire from his audience to create meaning. Pieces like Randomized Text: History of Stars 6 and 7 (2007) or Sky Box I (2011), which juxtapose seemingly unrelated images of text and constellations, invite rumination. In Randomized Text; History of Stars 6 and 7, Gaines encrypts two texts through a complex set of functional operations. Resembling a quilt of newly constructed meaning interposed between two distinctly recognizable texts—the Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel Love in the Time of Cholera, translated from Spanish in the late 1980s, and Edward Said's Orientalism from 1975—the newly continuous text is hand-printed on two tablets, juxtaposed between photographic documents of identifiable constellations in the night sky, and reads in a quirkily alternating pattern of narrative/dialogue and political theory. More intriguing than disorienting, Gaines' shuffling of texts results in a stippling of Marquez' fictional address of questions of science, progress and love, set within a subtext of socio-economic status amidst Said's analysis of colonialism.