Thin lines and soft brushstrokes drift aimlessly through British artist Leo Bruno Todd’s drawings and paintings like memories passing through time. Landscape and architectural fragments are suggested with faint grids or checks, slatted angles and amorphous brick or rock-like shapes, but they are transient pieces set apart from their surroundings like relics from a long-gone era. Friction between these jangling, loose parts is created by juxtaposing fuzzy, airbrushed or expressive streaks of paint with crisp, spiky pencil lines, causing a strange dissonance and dislocation between them.
Todd’s art draws from the discreet language of artists from an earlier generation such as Robert Ryman and Richard Tuttle, who explored a similar language of casual, intimate minimalism with slight marks and muted colours. Like these artists, Todd’s works have a fragile, human and modest quality led by questioning and doubt. They teeter on the precipice between failure and success – one wrong move could destroy the whole balance, forcing him to start over from scratch. So how does he know when to stop? Much like a chess player, every step in his game is laid bare, playing a vital role in the balance of the final work. There is no erasing or correcting – instead each step is intuitive, improvised and decisive, responding to the last one as a means of creating harmony, order and balance on the flat page.
Textured colour adds depth, space and movement into his works. Onto neutral, mid-toned backdrops he arranges elements of linear drawing in fluffy, fuzzy or expressive brushstrokes and crisp pencil or marker pen, usually in pared back colours that have a quietly appealing intimacy. Shapes sometimes hint at elements of realism; rock forms are suggested in some works, while in others small green or red plant shoots emerge from the ground. But many more of his artworks veer closer to abstraction, taking on the quality of a codified, personalised handwriting or note taking that helps him remember the seemingly inconsequential events and observations of his ordinary life.
By highlighting the normal, quiet and intimate moments of life Todd’s works take on an anti-monumental quality, reminding us that art doesn’t have to brash, loud or sensationalist to make an emotional impact. His celebration of the small events and random, loose parts that bring tiny sparks of joy into our existence are more valuable than we sometimes think, a fact it is easy to lose sight of, and perhaps it is even here where the true root of happiness lies.