“painting seems like some kind of peculiar miracle that I need
 to have again and again.” 
Philip Guston

Talking with Todd in his studio recently, we spoke of how drawing remains a fundamental instrument for initiating composition and acknowledging narrative, for building form and for a quieter process of orientation. I look at the marks and gestures he makes, their length and their trace, and it is clear that there is an accumulation of knowledge in these paintings that one can surely absorb only through drawing. This activity not only establishes the broader co-ordinates of what comes later, but conversely it also functions to liberate the painting itself – letting it misbehave – be a little irresponsible.

He also suggested that he is open to the painting being understood, or perhaps more accurately perceived, ‘as it is’. For Hunter the obligation to make a work driven by some moral or didactic responsibility is ludicrous. There is no de-coding to be done – just feel the colour, his spiky agility with the brushwork, and be open to their complex beauty. Over the course of the day, one became aware that for such fervent paintings the colour could also be delicate and mysterious. There is a sensuality to his colour that tempers the volatility – an unexpected tenderness in the way that colours contend and then ultimately share the space. These gentler pigments with all their blushes and “tinges” relate back to the drawings’ eroticism – if not directly, then by sensual insinuation.

It is true that Hunter’s best paintings seem to be ambushed by a promiscuous vivacity – one where the gesture and colour, composition and light are such that one doesn’t see them as separate attributes, they mingle and consort in Dionysian joy.

Hanging above the doorway that leads to the painting studio proper is Bob Dylan’s “Street Legal” album cover. It was Dylan that suggested that “All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” That is what I sense strongly in Todd Hunter’s painting… that he is working each and every day, both to be and re-make himself through painting, whoever that may be.

Andrew Jensen, April 2023