los-angeles

Todd Gray, Purnima, 2018, ink-jet prints, found frames, UV laminate, 55 × 48 × 3 1⁄2". From the series “Exquisite Terribleness,” 2013–.

Todd Gray

Meliksetian | Briggs

Writing in these pages in 2013, critic Bruce Hainley asked, “Aren’t the ‘life,’ ‘body,’ and ‘face’ of Michael Jackson in the running for some of the most abstract events of the last century?” Indeed, in his lifetime, Jackson complicated notions around his own race, gender, and cultural identity, and his transformation (what Hainley pointed to as “transgendering”) took place before a critical public eye. Todd Gray was Jackson’s exclusive personal photographer in the late 1970s and early 1980s—and thus enjoyed a proximity that allowed him a privileged view of the celebrity in construction—and many of his original photographs from that period appear in his ongoing “Exquisite Terribleness” series, 2013–. In these works, Jackson is an elusive figure, obscured by and layered with more recent photos taken by the artist (landscapes, portraits, and interior scenes, many shot in Africa). He appears

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