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Emily Mason



APRIL 25 - JUNE 1. 2014

Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | tel 505.988.3250 Santa Fe, New Mexio 87501 | | info@lewallengalleries.com77 cover: Well Watered, 2013, oil on canvas, 60.25” x 50” opposite: A Different Note, 2013, oil on canvas, 52” x 56”


Opened Jars

PAINTINGS BY EMILY MASON The title of this exhibition of new work by Emily Mason, Opened Jars, might seem enigmatic at first. After all, what do paintings have to do with jars? In point of fact, the title is surprisingly revelatory, both of the artist’s own imaginative wit and of the unending delight she takes in making and sharing new discoveries in her art. There is a thrill of finding which fruit is in a jar of jam or what vegetable the pickling brine contains in a jar put aside in a season past. Encountering new work by Emily Mason holds a similar excitement of expectation: anticipation followed by captivating surprise when “the jar is opened” and new paintings are fully revealed. Perhaps it is in this liminal realm between mystery and the familiar that Mason’s art succeeds the most. Her paintings conjoin in unanticipated combinations of diverse hues, opacities, and spatial relationships. The results are always fresh and new, but in each one there can be comprehended distinct expressions of joyfulness and emotional exuberance. Always there is vibrantenergy that is nothing short of exhilarating. Yet still there is tucked between the expanses of varying colors and amorphously associated forms a pervading layer of mystery, an enticing ambiguity that beckons like a siren for the imagination to persist in its desire to encounter and decipher. There is always a new jar to which we look forward. Differences, 2013, oil on canvas, 26” x 20”

Mason’s art succeeds at the rare intersection of artistic intuition and a viewer’s delight. Likely it is in her creative use of intuition that surprise is born. It would be antithetical to her intuitive sense of beauty – its dependence on spontaneity and improvisation – for her ever to self-consciously strive to produce beauty as though by prescription or formula. For Mason, that level of intentionality would likely be both uninteresting and unsuccessful. To the contrary, Mason’s genius lies largely in what might be termed a joyful aesthetic equanimity, a constant openness and alert awareness of possibilities tempered by avoidance of pictorial intention and urgency. Only when the sinews of powerful beauty clutch at her imagination does a painting happen. And then the result is surprise – a painting pleasing to the eye, mind and heart.

feelings – is a large part of the joy of being in the presence of a Mason painting. In a way, Mason’s art might be seen as an example of successfully evolved abstraction in general, whether in the visual arts, music or literature. The absence of the alreadyknown should provoke the mind and heart to strive for new ways of knowing, new feelings to feel, new meanings to ponder. Her unique fusions of color, field and gesture allow her to comprise paintings whose facture speaks with a lyrical eloquence that is nothing less than visual poetry. Her paintings communicate vivid meaning even in the absence of discernible subject matter.

This indirection - the capacity to remain open to the world around her and its varying poetic rhythms and chromatic harmonies – may be a key to her prowess in fusing spontaneity and practice to produce works of enduring beauty. Mason concocts expertly but without much preconception, allowing pigments and viscosities to interact, layering and flowing one into another in spontaneous interplay. In the sheer materiality of Mason’s graceful handling of paint there is powerful poignancy. Meanings emerge that are not entirely evident but that are unfailingly enticing. One senses that, as Gertrude Stein might have said, there is “a lot of there there.” Discerning more specifically what it might be - particular ideas or

Mason has long explored endless possibilities of new creation within her own framework of masterful technical process. Her work, never predictable but always a gift to the eye, deftly converges anticipation with revelation. By her open embrace of the indeterminate potential of colors, their intensities and adjacencies, of lines and densities, her work incites new ideas and emotions. Although her paintings share a delectable chromatic flavor, no two are ever identical, but all are dependably satisfying – the way a summer’s bounty is put aside with gustatory variety and in the end one recognizes the unmistakable hand of a master canner. Kenneth R. Marvel


Discovery, 2013, oil on canvas, 40” x 52”


Winter is Over, 2013, oil on canvas, 44” x 28”


I Hear It Leaping, 2013, oil on canvas, 48” x 48”


Below Sea Level, 2013, oil on canvas, 54” x 42”


Downsized, 2013, oil on canvas, 40” x 42”


Infinity Folded, 2013, oil on canvas, 28” x 24”


Underwater, 2013, oil on canvas, 56” x 40”


Winter’s Edge, 2013, oil on canvas, 36.13” x 24.13”


Sound Bite, 2012, oil on canvas, 44.13” x 44.13”


On Track, 2013, oil on canvas, 44” x 44”


Entrance, 2012, oil on canvas, 52” x 52”


Reactivated, 2013, oil on canvas, 40.25” x 32”


Run Off, 2013, oil on canvas, 40” x 40”


Monadnock, 1985, oil on canvas, 50” x 42”


Lifted, 2012, oil on canvas, 22” x 18”


Overhead, 1976, oil on canvas, 24” x 21”


Lifted From Above, 2014, oil on canvas, 40” x 40”


On Time, 2013, cil on canvas, 24” x 22”


Return Engagement, 1985, oil on canvas, 24” x 24”


Shore Line, 2013, oil on canvas, 20” x 26”


Moving Parts, 2013, oil on canvas, 40” x 26”


Wings of the Dove, 2013, oil on canvas, 50” x 46”


In a Tea Pot, 1994, oil on canvas, 32” x 30”


Firm Footing, 2013, oil on canvas, 51.9” x 28”


Well Watered, 2013, oil on canvas, 60.25” x 50”


When We saw Stars, 2013, oil on canvas, 28” x 20”


Activated, 2012, oil on canvas, 42” x 40”


A Different Note, 2013, oil on canvas, 52” x 56”


Hot Item, 2013, oil on canvas, 24” x 22”


Circumvent, 1983, oil on paper, 26” x 20”


Nautical Night, 1983, oil on paper, 26” x 20”


Like Steam or Shadow, 1985, oil on paper, 26” x 20”


Plated Leaves, 1979, oil on canvas, 22” x 28”


To a Degree, 2013, oil on canvas, 20” x 24”


Velvet Limb, 1984, oil on paper, 26” x 20”


BIOGRAPHY Considered on of America’s finest Color Abstractionists, Emily Mason is now in her sixth decade of painting and is widely regarded for her unique and poetic modality of pictorial expression. Regarding principal strategies of Abstract Expressionism into the foundation for a deeply personal and lyrical strain of contemporary painting, Mason’s works are distinguished by their luminosity, exuberance, and intensity of color.

Emily Mason continues to expand the formal vocabulary and expressive potential of visual art. Emily Mason was born in New York City in 1932. After receiving her BFA from Cooper Union, she lived for two years in Italy, where she studied at the Academia di Belle Arti in Venice as a Fulbright Scholar from 1956 to 1958. Since 1979, the year she was awarded the Ranger Fund Purchase Prize by the National Academy, Mason has taught painting at Hunter College for more than 30 years. Her work is included in numerous public and private collections internationally.

Embracing the divide between intention and outcome, the artist describes her process as a collaboration with chance that foregrounds the beauty of unintended consequences. Her quietly expressive abstractions result from a synergy of diverse techniques that emphasize intuitive procedures and relay the unpredictable dynamics of color that energize her canvases. Merging acute instinct and a sophisticated sense of structure,

Emily Mason: The Fifth Element, a comprehensive monograph with text by David Ebony, was published in 2006 by George Braziller publishers.

Support System, 2013, oil on canvas, 36” x 54”


Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | tel 505.988.3250 Santa Fe, New Mexio 87501 | | above: Cloud Bank, 2012, oil on canvas, 20� x 22�

Emily Mason  
Emily Mason  

The title of this exhibition of new work by Emily Mason, Opened Jars, might seem enigmatic at first. After all, what do paintings have to d...