[REVIEW] McMaster Museum of Art showcases Graham Todd's work

William Lou
October 2, 2014
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

Among the five new exhibits at the McMaster Museum of Art is that of artist and McMaster professor Graham Todd. The professor’s work can be found in private and public collections in places such as Spain, Mexico and the United States. Unfortunately, Graham Todd passed away in June 2013, leaving his story behind in the form of his sculptures.

Sculpting was to Graham what the written word is to authors – a method of storytelling. His mastery of several different media - from clay to bronze to ceramic – is evident in each of his multi-media pieces. Despite the fact that he incorporates several different surfaces into his work, it is through other methods that he is able to bring the elements together and create a cohesive unit. The repetition of colour is a big component of his art, as he uses a limited selection of hues per piece. Typically, his pieces include a few warm colours such as reds and oranges, but are primarily dominated by cool purples, blues and greens. His shades of choice tend to be muted, giving his pieces an overall weathered look. This results in artwork that looks earthy and natural, so much so that you are given the impression that it could be a relic discovered under heaps of rubble.

From piece to piece, what struck me most was Todd’s use of movement. It astonishes me that a piece that is solid and unmoving can inspire a sense of fluidity and motion, as do Todd's pieces. One piece in particular, Recent Memories (1983), consists of a marble shape resembling a cornucopia. The numerous curved, tightly packed lines on the side of the piece to draw the viewer’s eye from the tip of the cone to the end, giving the stationary object movement. This same piece is one of Todd’s most vibrant, consisting of hues of bright pinks, blues and reds. Furthermore, his installations often consist of irregularly shaped forms stacked upon each other, often at precarious angles that threaten to tip over. Similar to the cornucopia, the viewer’s eye runs over these impressive sculptures, starting from the base, following along the line of the sculpture and culminating at the tip.

Another impressive set of sculptures is Todd's twin pieces Sphere/Sombra (2008) and Sphere/Sunrise (2008). They are both spherical in nature and both have a similar surface texture that resembles snakeskin. However, the colour of each differs greatly, with Sombra using dusty purples and browns, and Sunrise consisting of oranges and yellow. This use of complementary colours creates juxtaposition between otherwise similar forms. Interestingly enough, these two pieces are stationed on the same length of table, but are separated by five other sculptures. Their distance is intriguing, given their obvious correlation.

These mentioned installations are merely a scratch at the surface of the beauty of Todd Graham’s exhibit, and I strongly encourage those who have a free moment to give it a visit. It is, all in all, an impressive collection that honours a man whose artistic genius lives on in his work.

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 “I build objects. Clay is my ink, shapes are my letters, form is my syntax and structure is my synopsis. My works have a beginning middle and end.” – Graham Todd

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