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American Paintings - 1980-present

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Things to Admit

20th century
183 cm x 178 cm (72 1/16 in. x 70 1/16 in.)

Mark Todd (Leon, Iowa, 1950 - ) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: North America, American
Medium and Support: Gesso, acrylic paint, colored pencil, and china marker on canvas
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Michener Acquisitions Fund, 1987
Accession Number: 1987.5

I’m interested in the angst of human experience. My work reflects those little pieces of insanity we so cleverly disguise … whether it is through the written word, the formal elements of the painting or the figurative image. These “stories” are never complete, but only fragments of something bigger than painting. Random everyday experiences, idle conversations, diverse memories, and thoughts about love, life and society provide the main sources of inspiration for Mark Todd’s paintings and poems. However incidental and private the impulses of the works, Todd’s canvases raise pertinent questions about the anxieties of modern life and the limits of human relationships. His paintings seem to remind the viewer of the troublesome and absurd sides of human existence, the distressing part of life most of us have chosen to repress, or cleverly disguise, in order to lead comfortable lives. Todd’s canvases are multi-layered, fragmented, and disjointed. The material, as well as the formal visual and textual elements, seem to be the result of a process of modification, erasure, addition, and revision. The viewer can envision the artist at work in his studio: first applying the paint with fervent brushstrokes, then scraping, scratching and incising the paint with scribbles, images and words. The artist’s working process is captured in the paint, and the viewer is a witness to this involved labor. It is tempting to compare Todd’s paintings to old, graffiti-covered walls where text and images do not correspond in a singular relationship. The connection between the elements of his works is complex, ambiguous and disorienting, and the viewer’s quest for meaning remains unresolved.

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