The tension that exists in See Through is what gives this painting its dynamism. The brilliant yellows and red are almost aggressive juxtaposed against the soothing turquoise on the left of the canvas. It leaves the viewer wondering, “am I looking through the chaos to see the peace beyond, or am I looking through the calm to see the tumult beneath?”
Lew Allen Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Private Collection, Santa Fe, NM
Emily Mason: In Memoriam, Lew Allen Gallery, NM, September 4-October, 2020, pg. 26, illustrated in color
"Emily Mason: The Light in Spring", University Press of New England, 2015, pg. 6, color photograph, pg.20, illustrated in color (detail), pg. 81, illustrated in color
Emily Mason is an instinctive colorist and as such, is drawn to the same vocabulary that other colorists have used, extemporizing as she goes along. Her abstractions are rich with areas of layered, saturated color contrasted with delicate, translucent washes and glazes that resemble watercolor, with recessions and advances, push and pull, with monochromatic planes interrupted by fissures and crevasses of other colors, flurried with small rains of brushstrokes, scumbled, rubbed, scraped. The boundaries of her protean shapes can seep into each other, rippled where one image slips imperceptibly into others with usually no hard and fast demarcation, no defined edges or clear lines but the transition is accomplished nonetheless. The fluidity, however, is gently but firmly structured, locked into place, into Mason's version of dynamic equilibrium. Often, only two or three colors dominate a canvas but a whole rainbow has been requisitioned in the making of it, with other hues underneath, floating on top, woven into the surface, into the texture, tucked into corners. Her corners are often surprising and full of incidents; here she can slip a few more shades in, overlaying them, brushing them on top of each other.
Mason is a woman of infinite variety. Her brushstrokes can melt into each other, shimmer, go flat, the color deepens, becomes sonorous yet in other places, it is whispery, translucent. Mason says she never likes to use white paint, preferring to let the white of the primed canvas show through for glow. The exterior light is also important and affects her painting; there is summer light and summer painting and winter light and winter painting, like Northern and Southern schools reconciled in one artist, The surface texture can be velvety or sleek, and the paint can transform itself at times into metal, glinting gold or copper. A yellow line, for instance, in one painting appears bright gold, an illusion created by its interaction with the colors in its vicinity. Mason does use gold but infrequently, content with the alchemy of paint itself.
Her sense of color is assured, in exuberant, innovative, often denatured combinations. Her reds are remarkable—a whole range from warm to cool, light to dark. One painting is flooded with red, balanced by pinks and magentas, cooled by a touch of unnatural green while another thrust of red is tipped by yellow, like the point of an arrow, surrounded by swirling streaks of purple. Another is mainly yellows and oranges and blends of yellow-orange, cut through by a flash of bright turquoise paired by a darker scrap of turquoise.
Her primaries are more Miami than Neo-Plastic: purple instead of blue, orange instead of red, gold instead of yellow. Her complementaries are reds that shift into rosy pinks, magentas and greens that veer toward lime and acquamarine. Purple and yellows are also frequent combinations but in a wide range of tones and complex relationships. Mason learned early that context is paramount and that colors influence each other in so many ways, such as hue, tonality, temperature, mood.
As for content, they may or may not be abstractions of landscapes, of imagined aerial views, oceanic depths or tropical gardens. Mason says they have a relationship to place but are not meant to be landscape. However, if landscape creeps in afterwards, she can accept that; she believes in nature. Be that as it may and whatever else they might be, Mason's paintings are first and foremost an art of sensation. Based on vision, they are a joyous and triumphant affirmation of color and of painting itself, the once and future medium.
**ADDITIONAL PAINTINGS BY THE ARTIST CURRENTLY IN INVENTORY. PLEASE CONTACT GALLERY FOR DETAILS.**