"The Artist Remixing History, from French Gardens to the Cosmos," by Travis Diehl, Aperture
Todd Gray’slayered compositions examine legacies of colonialism in Africa and Europe.
Todd Gray knows history. He has made some himself: his current body of work draws on his time as a commercial photographer, shooting album covers, celebrity portraits (famously, he was Michael Jackson’s personal photographer), and live concerts. He also knows the bitter stories of colonial conquest in Africa—how privilege and ideas of landscape and painting feed pernicious narratives, prop them up—and how photography also serves in power’s toolkit. He knows art history too. When we spoke recently on a bench outside the Pomona College Museum of Art—where Euclidean Gris Gris, his shifting, expanding exhibition of new and recent work, is on view—Gray noted that Helene Winer was once director there, before she moved to Artists Space and helped Douglas Crimp mount Pictures in 1977. Gray was a contemporary of the Pictures artists, he tells me, but he was never one of them. The reason? The gris gris of his title.