Todd's fifth solo exhibition with Messum’s includes portraits, landscapes, figure studies and still lifes, many of which were inspired by the Kent and Sussex borders where she lives.
Now renowned as one of Britain’s most original portraitists, Todd has painted HRH The Prince of Wales , Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, Lord and Lady Sainsbury, Sir Christopher Ondaatje, Sir Tom Stoppard, William Packer, Spike Milligan, Dame Janet Baker and, most recently, art critic Martin Gayford.
Always working directly in front of her subject, her deliberate brushwork and use of finely grained birch panels allow her to capture her subject matter with almost forensic acuity. Her painting has a glassine beauty that suggests both refraction of forms and complex personalities.
She has a gift for imbuing inanimate objects with a kind of ‘inner life’: the uncompromised frontality of an empty chair, for instance, can suggest not only lack, but even loss of occupancy. All of these works subtly but unmistakably voice Todd's conviction: "It's my job [as an artist] to find beauty in whatever I'm looking at."
Todd has stretched her talents still further by participating in The Big Painting Challenge (available on BBC iPlayer until the end of April). Hosted by Una Stubbs and Richard Bacon, BBC1's six-part programme followed ten amateur artists to see which one might become Britain’s next emerging painter.
Todd joined Lachlan Goudie to critique the artists as they tested their talents in a variety of media, tackling every type of figurative art – including landscape, still life, portraiture and life drawing. Moreover, each programme took place in a different part of the country, reflecting the diversity and stunning landscapes of Britain.
Todd said: “Some of our greatest minds have been amateur painters: Churchill painted for pleasure; Prince Charles consistently makes time in an unbelievably hectic schedule to dash off a landscape. If THEY can, WE can! I shall be looking for a sense of personal development in the finalists, a sense that they will pursue and defend their own vision ... Above all the challenges will be great fun!"
Todd has earned a reputation for being one of the most talented British portraitists working. She submitted the winning entry for the 2010 BP Portrait Prize; has four works in the National Portrait Gallery; had been elected the first female President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (1994-2000); and was awarded an OBE for services to the Arts in 2002. In 2011, moreover, TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall invited Todd to accompany them on their African tour as Official Artist.
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition (£15 + p&p). Limited copies of Jenny Pery's book ‘Daphne Todd: Paint and Principle’ (Studio Publications, 2008) are also available.