Michael Ray Charles

Selected works


Born in 1967 in Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, Michael Ray Charles currently lives and works in Austin, Texas, USA, and Gent, Belgium. He spent most of his youth in California and Louisiana. He studied design and advertising for three and a half years before being awarded a BFA degree in 1989. He went on to obtain an MFA in 1993 at the University of Houston, Texas, before teaching at the University of Texas in Austin. In 2014, he joined the faculty of the University of Houston. His work features in a wide range of public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Arizona State University Art Museum and San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas.


As part of the group show De leur temps at the Frac Grand Large, Jean-Michel Alberola, Oda Jaune, Michael Ray Charles and Prune Nourry will exhibit their works from 28 January to 23 April 2023.

Frac Grand Large, France

From January 28 to April 23, 2023


GROUP SHOW – Black Indians de la Nouvelle Orléan

Opening on October 4, the exhibition “Blacks Indians From New Orlean” will present two artworks by afro-american Michael Ray Charles. Via a geographical and chronolical journey featuring interviews, contemporary costumes and traditional works, the exhibition reveals a singular culture, built by more than three centuries of resistance against the assault of social and racial domination.

Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac Museum, France

From October 4, 2022 to January 15, 2023



Galerie Templon is delighted to announce that American artist Michael Ray Charles joins the gallery roster.

With the valuable collaboration of his agent Hedwig Van Impe, the gallery will unveil for the first time in almost two decades the complex, visually striking and often disturbing oeuvre of one of the most radical African-American artists of his generation. Templon will reveal over time his spectacular series of unseen paintings and sculptures.

Born in 1967 in Lousiana, Michael Ray Charles created a sensation when he first emerged on the artistic scene in the nineties. Along side his contemporaries Kara Walker or Kerry James Marshall, he was a pioneer in exploring the representation of African-American communities within American history and pop culture. By appropriating some of the most disparaging imagery of the 20th century, his practise subverts the common perception of identity and racial discrimination. Sometimes painful but always deeply political, his multi-faceted works question the power of images. As his friend the film maker Spike Lee put it in a 1997 interview “Michael Ray Charles attacks some serious issues and with a deft humor, which is very hard to do. He makes you laugh while he’s killing you. That’s a real artist.”

The success of his shows at Tony Shafrazi gallery in New York, quickly led him to exhibit extensively around Europe, showing with Hans Mayer in Germany and especially Cotthem Gallery in Belgium and Spain. The controversial reception of his work however, combined with a growing sense of inadequacy and frustration with the American art world, led him to question the commodification of his art. In 2004, encouraged, motivated and supported by Hedwig Van Impe, the artist chose to disengage himself from the public sphere to solely focus on his research. Since then, Michael Ray Charles has been sharing his time between the US and Belgium, building in almost complete secrecy a body of work more powerful than ever.

In a context reshaped by the Black Lives Matter movement, Michael Ray Charles will now unveil for the first time at the gallery, one of his mysterious series, the result of 20 years of relentless investigations and quest for a new artistic language. The first show at the gallery will open in March 2022. As an advance preview, two paintings, ironically titled “Forever Free” were exhibited in Art Basel Miami Beach (December 1-4 2021).