Featuring the artist’s signature style of found frames and stacked images from his private archive, Todd Gray: Crossing the Waters of Space, Time, and History considers the impacts of colonialism on Black consciousness. Gray’s recent photographic, yet sculptural compositions obscure, expose, and connect images of contemporary culture and nature to express hidden relationships in the legacies of African enslavement, colonialism, and inequity. With studios in Los Angeles and Akwidaa, Ghana, the artist probes colonial paradigms by juxtaposing everyday people with celebrities, rural South African landscapes with formal European gardens, and far-flung galaxies that hold infinite possibilities and desires.
Crossing the Waters of Space, Time, and History continues Gray’s investigations into the social and historical construction of imperial gardens as physical and aesthetic manifestations of how aspects of European reason resulted in oppression. Gray’s images illuminate the constructed duality of land and culture, body and spirit to reveal inherent complexities of lived Black experiences. Gray’s images become physical and psychological representations of the tenuous experiences of Black people around the world, thereby offering viewers an opportunity to confront and reconcile tragedies of the past.
As an added bonus, this exhibition debuts three new works and some of the artist’s personal sketches, features a curated selection of books, and an artist’s playlist.
Todd Gray (b. 1954, Los Angeles) is best known for his photography, performance and sculpture. From his work as photographer to Michael Jackson from 1979-1984, he brought his unique vision to fine art, where today he re-frames narratives of the Black lived experience. His work has been featured internationally, including the 2019 Whitney Biennial, the 2018 Public Fiction: The Conscientious Objector at the MAK Center for Art & Architecture in Los Angeles, and his appointment as a 2018 John S. Guggenheim Fellow. His 2018 exhibition Michael Jackson: On the Wall at London’s National Portrait Gallery traveled in 2019 to the Grand Palais, Paris; the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn; and the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland. In 2017, Gray had solo exhibitions: My Life in the Bush with MJ and Iggy at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and Pluralities of Being at Gallery Momo in Johannesburg, South Africa. Gray has BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.
Todd Gray sat down with Chief Curator Rehema Barber on November 4 for a conversation regarding his exhibition. He shared his insights into the physical and mental creative processes behind his work.