Michael Ray Charles

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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).









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