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Emily Mason Ripple Effect The paintings of Emily Mason are like vivacious rhapsodies, composed from luscious color orchestrations and graceful brushwork that together evidence the delightfully confident hand of a masterful artist. The sense of musicality hovers in Mason’s work with harmonies of color variety, interplay of values and tones, staccato line and bagatelles of brushy expanses, and syncopations between spans and bursts. In her handling of color all of that is present. And in her paintings color becomes, as Delacroix once described it, “music for the eyes.” In some paintings, passages read like gentle meditations, others suggest exuberant reveries. In all of Mason’s painting, however, there is unmistakable testament to vivid imagination suffused with boundless energy. In her unambiguous embrace and vigorous handling of lucid color identities and relationships, there is recalled a kind of visual counterpart to the succinct and brisk cadence of poetry by Emily Dickinson, in whose lyrics the painter delights. The poet wrote memorably that “A word that breathes distinctly/ Has not the power to die.” This thought applies similarly to the enduring vitality of Mason’s paintings that comes from the distinctiveness of her vibrant color rhythms and improvisational pictorial compositions. Color itself is of course timeless and eternal. It is primal and attracts the eyes and takes possession of the senses. The experience of color has long been associated with and can activate a variety of emotions, from passion or joy to tranquility or melancholy. Color carries shared experience of feeling that transcends time or place but that experience of color does not require consensus as to a particular meaning. The orange-red of a painting like Fully Charged is apt to evoke the same feelings of strength and energy a hundred years from now as it does today; its shades of magenta are likely to inspire the same sense of opulent mystery. Beyond that, specifics of any imagery are left to the viewer’s imagination. In Mason’s work, color is the primary means by which her paintings are structured. Color is largely autonomous, without specific reference to literal objects. Its forms and shapes, veils and layers, darts and furls ripple across her canvases and comprise singular argots of painterly sensibility and sensation. In her paintings, a push/pull between light and dark, thin and dense act as a perpetual energy generator keeping the work alive and full of constant enchantment. In looking at her work one is reminded that Matisse talked about color as being a powerful means of liberation and Roland Barthes called color a kind of bliss. Both freedom and joy abound in Mason’s paintings.

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Emily Mason: Ripple Effect 2016  
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