Competition: US & Canada
Where is Todd Gray?
The artist is one of 26 included in the latest installment of the Hammer Biennial, “Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only.” The diverse survey of recent art opened last week at the Westwood museum, but Gray’s work is nowhere to be seen.
That absence is by design.
Gray, a well-known commercial photographer in the music industry as well as an artist whose work is included in numerous museum collections, is restaging an extended performance piece suggestively located at today’s perplexing crossroads of art culture and celebrity culture. Its title is “Ray.”
For a full year following the 2013 death of his friend Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for the classic rock band the Doors, Gray wore only clothing that had belonged to the musician. In the Hammer’s lobby, an unobtrusive wall label says that he is doing it again for the duration of the museum show.
Should you bump into the artist as he goes about his daily life between now and the show’s Aug. 28 closing, you will certainly experience his work. The clothing is a public “second skin” — an outward sign of an inward life, which is a pretty good description of most works of art.
The 2016 biennial was organized by Hammer curator Aram Moshayedi and guest curator Hamza Walker of Chicago’s Renaissance Society museum.
By CHRISTOPHER KNIGHT ART CRITIC, Los Angeles Times
JUN 23, 2016
Born in Los Angeles, Todd Gray received both his BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Solo and group exhibitions include the Studio Museum, Harlem, NY: USC Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Renaissance Society, University of Chicago; Meliksetian Briggs Gallery Los Angeles; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; National Portrait Gallery, London; Grand Palais, Paris among others. Performance works have been presented at institutions such as the Roy & Edna Disney Cal/Arts Theater, REDCAT; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. His work is represented in numerous museum collections: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; National Gallery of Canada; Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles among others. He was the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Grant in 2016.
Todd Gray’s photo based work explore issues of black masculinity, diaspora, and contemporary/historical examinations of power. As Michael Jackson’s chosen photographer (1979-1984), Gray created an archive of this crucial period in Jackson’s life and career. In recent installations, he revisits this archive, pairing images of Jackson with photographs of Ghana where Gray maintains a studio, exploring the diasporic dislocations and cultural connections which link the US to West Africa. Gray has presented this work in academic conferences at Yale and Harvard University.