Todd Gray: Euclidean Gris Gris at Pomona College Museum of Art (PCMA), September 3, 2019 – May 17, 2020

Todd Gray: Euclidean Gris Gris is a year-long exhibition and residency at Pomona College that includes an evolving selection of new sculptural photographic works derived from Gray’s exploration of the legacies of colonialism in Africa and Europe and a site-specific wall drawing that abstractly evokes a relationship to African deities.

Based in Los Angeles, Gray is best known for photography, performance and sculptural works that address histories of power in relationship to the African diaspora. In the work at Pomona College, he combines photographs from his own archive—assembled over decades—and reconfigures and stacks the framed images on top of each other, resulting in layers that both reveal and conceal. The works include photographs of individuals and rural scenes in South Africa and Ghana (where Gray maintains a studio), formal imperial gardens in Europe, constellations and galaxies and images of rock and pop musicians Gray worked with in the 1970s and 1980s.

The title “Euclidean Gris Gris” references Gray’s examination of the historical constructs of the “logical” and geometrical gardens of Europe—an aesthetic manifestation of the idea of disembodied reason—and the “unpredictable” nature found in African landscapes. Gray deconstructs and layers images in order to rupture the body/mind and nature/culture binaries and examine the intimacies of Black sociality.” — Pomona College Museum of Art

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Todd Gray, Euclidean Gris Gris (Gifty/Versailles), 2019. Three archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 48 5/8 x 41 x 3 5/8 in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

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Euclidean Gris Gris (The Young Shall Inherit the Earth), 2019. Three archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 30 3/4 x 30 5/8 x 3 1/4 in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

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Euclidean Gris Gris (Francis), 2019 Three archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 49 5/8 x 37 5/8 x 1 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

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Euclidean Gris Gris (Love and Happiness), 2019. Two archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 37 7/8 x 47 3/4 x 2 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

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Parisian Hoods in Bamboo Village, 2019. Two archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 45 x 57 x 2 in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

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Euclidean Gris Gris (Ship of Fools), 2019. Two archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 60 x 81 3/4 x 2 1/2 in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

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Euclidean Gris Gris (Paris/Cape Town), 2019. Two archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 60 3/8 x 89 1/2 x 2 1/2 in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

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Euclidean Gris Gris (Bamboo/Figure in Leopold’s Garden), 2019. Three archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 73 1/2 x 57 5/8 x 3 7/8 in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

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Gris Gris Eye, 2019. Three archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 73 3/4 x 59 1/8 x 3 in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

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Euclidean Gris Gris (Scales of Injustice, No Respect), 2019. Five archival pigment prints in artist’s frames, 61 ½ x 98 ¾ x 4 ¾ in. Courtesy of the artist, David Lewis, New York, and Meliksetian | Briggs

In a recent conversation with artist Carrie Mae Weems that will be published in the exhibition catalog, Gray notes his desire for the audience to locate themselves within the multidimensional aspects of his work:

“I wanted to make the viewer conscious of how they are active players in constructing meaning. We tend to think of the veracity of photography, and that it does not lie,” says Gray. “I wanted to shift that and bring attention to the frame, to ask what’s outside of this frame? Because this other frame is covering something up. Then, you are given the task to reconstruct and bring in your narrative, your history, your understanding of what you’re looking at, and then, to name and create a narrative.”

The PCMA exhibition is organized by senior curator Rebecca McGrew with assistant curator Hannah Grossman.

Images courtesy Pomona College Museum of Art.