Charles Gaines

Exhibition Histories

  • Charles Gaines_TheaterofRefusal_Image1

    Installation view showing work by David Hammons, Renee Green, Gary Simmons and Pat Ward Williams, ‘The Theater of Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism’, Fine Arts Gallery, University of California, Irvine, 1993. Photography by Catherine Opie. Courtesy Charles Gaines

Past Event

This event was on Thu 18 Apr 2019, 7pm


The American artist and curator Charles Gaines is in conversation with editor Louis Hartnoll and writer and researcher John Tain to discuss his exhibition The Theater of Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism.

Opening at the Fine Arts Gallery, University of California, Irvine in 1993, ‘The Theater of Refusal’ foregrounded questions of structural racism by juxtaposing works by African-American artists with their reception in mainstream arts criticism. First proposed by Gaines in 1989 and developed through extended dialogue and debate, this multi-faceted exhibition articulated a theory of counter-marginality.

In association with Afterall and the International Curators Forum

This event is included in our Thursday Lates offer: book your ticket for the event together with admission for Is This Tomorrow? and save £4.95/£1.50 concs, plus receive a free drink at the Whitechapel Refectory.

About Charles Gaines

Highly regarded as both a leading practitioner of conceptualism and an influential educator at the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles-based artist Charles Gaines (American, b. 1944) is celebrated for his works on paper and acrylic glass, photographs, drawings, musical compositions, and installations that investigate how rule-based procedures influence representation and construct meaning. He has had over 80 one-person shows and several hundred group exhibitions in the US and abroad, including at the 2007 and 2015 Biennale di Venezia. In 2015, he presented a critically acclaimed retrospective exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Hammer Museum. Gaines’ work is collected internationally and at major institutions, including at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum. He was the 2018 honored recipient of the REDCAT award. He is represented by Hauser & Wirth and Galerie Max Hetzler.

About John Tain

John Tain is Head of Research at Asia Art Archive, where he leads a team of researchers based in Hong Kong, Delhi, and Shanghai, with projects spanning all of Asia. Previously, he was a curator for modern and contemporary collections at the Getty Research Institute, where he developed collections related to artists including Ed Ruscha, Allan Sekula, Faith Wilding, and Tetsumi Kudo. His writings on Rirkrit Tiravanija, Wu Tsang, Charles Gaines and Kara Walker, among others, have appeared in Artforum, The Brooklyn Rail, Flash Art, Art Review Asia, and in other publications, and he is a series editor for Afterall’s Exhibition Histories series. His exhibition, co-curated with Jasmine Alinder, Someday, Chicago, on the Japanese-American photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto, was on view this past fall at the DePaul Art Museum as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s “Art Design Chicago” initiative.