Judith Mason

judith mason south african artist



Judith Mason is a painter and graphic artist of symbolic and mythological landscapes, figures and portraits. Mason works primarily in oils and pencil but has also incorporated various graphic media and found objects in her work as well as making a number of artists' books.

Judith Mason's work is drawn or painted in reaction to her world: political events, comments that she has read, snippets of history or poetry which have caught her eye, or the experience of particular people or animals which are usually used in a symbolic context.

Depending on the impulse which drives the artwork, her images may be expressionist (The Furies"), or classical ("A Dante Bestiary'), simply representational ("Citrus Shadows"), humorous ("Listening to Beethoven") or symbolic ("The Man who Sang and the Woman who Kept Silent"). Christian or Hindu mythology is an undercurrent in many of her works ("Gethsemane", "Shiva Slowing Down").

Judith Mason's early work tended to be more abstract than her current work. At present she uses trompe l'oeil and delicately detailed passages as a contrast to paint washes and splash marks. In recent years she has attempted to destroy the 2-dimentional nature of the canvas by using juxtaposed hexagons or layers of traced splash marks to create a matrix suggesting movement and depth, and in which objects are held in an ambiguous, flickering space. Judith Mason's characteristic of heightening the emotional impact in her work leads to images, which move the spectator, often in a strong way.

Artists Statement:
" I paint in order to make sense of my life, to manipulate various chaotic fragments of information and impulse into some sort of order, through which I can glimpse a hint of meaning. I am an agnostic humanist possessed of religious curiosity who regards making artworks as akin to alchemy. To use inert matter on an inert surface to convey real energy and presence seems to me a magical and privileged way of living out my days"
Judith Mason 2004

Judith Mason archive

The artist's website.

To read Judith Mason's blog click here.

Artists A to L

Artists M to X

Lithograph 2014

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Title: Singer
Medium: Five colour lithograph
Size: 70 x 51cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 7 250 (excl.VAT)

Mothmask Lithographs


Artists Statement:
"Moths are my favourite insects and summer becomes a real burden because I am always rescuing them from bathwater or guiding them away from bright and harmful lights. I keep dead moths so as to enjoy their beauty for as long as possible, and find the complex beauty of the patterns and textures irresistible. The 'eyes', which are a feature of some species' markings, remind me of Venetian Carnival masks. The three Mothmasks shown here are a playful way of commemorating specimens I have collected in combination with the notions of disguise and disclosure. Two of them hide the face, and in the third, a face is revealed in close up, as he scrutinises wings through a magnifying glass."
Judith Mason 2011

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Title: Mothmask I
Medium: Seven colour lithograph
Paper size: Size: 70 x 51cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 5 850 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Mothmask II
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 70 x 51cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 5 850 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Mothmask III
Medium: Five colour lithograph
Paper size: Size: 70 x 51cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 5 850 (excl.VAT)

Lithographs (Goya and Pomegranates)

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Artists Statement:
"Pomegranates have always been my favourite fruit because of their beautiful caskets of jewel-like seeds within, and the hard, almost pot-like exterior. It is an ancient fruit, celebrated in the Song of Solomon and regarded by the Early Church as a symbol of the Resurrection. In these prints I have tried to celebrate the fruit's sensual qualities, and its oozing ruby juice , and have juxtaposed it with a hammer to remind one of its skull-like vulnerability."
Judith Mason 2010

Mark Attwood has worked out a new technique to meet the needs of artists who are primarily painters. He explains ” This method was born out of the frustration of trying to find painterly ways for artists to work with, that would allow them to get the sort of marks that they achieve when they paint”. Judith Mason has recently spent a few weeks in the studio, and now has a printing technique that she can really extend herself in. Judith says that the process is “ Much more satisfactory for painters because you don’t fill in colours or have to anticipate how colours will work in the ”abstract”. You are able to see instantly how the colours will interact and the gesture making typical of most painters is allowed to develop in ways that even experienced painters find exciting.”

Mason recently completed a suite of prints using this technique. Bits of fabric and tissue are used to apply the ink, which allows for beautiful and subtle mark making. Combined with the translucency of the ink the images of pomegranates that she has used seem to glow from the paper surface. On can almost touch the “wet translucency” of the juice from the smashed fruit in the one print.

The artist worked onto a sheet of clear plastic with coloured inks with the image reading the same way it will be in the final print. She worked with the actual ink colour that was used the final print (as opposed to working in black pencil or tusche). Mark adds,” this allows the artist to see what they have and what the print will look like as they build it up”. When the artist is satisfied, the image is transferred onto the printing plate, the plate is processed, and the proofs are pulled. The results speak for themselves.

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Title: Pomegranate I
Medium: Eleven colour lithograph
Size: 51 x 70cm
Edition size: 40
Price: R 7 250 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Pomegranate II
Medium: Seven colour lithograph
Size: 51 x 70cm
Edition size: 40
Price: R 7 250 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Pomegranate III
Medium: Seven colour lithograph
Size: 51 x 70cm
Edition size:40
Price: R 7 250 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Goya's Hat
Medium: Nine colour lithograph
Size: 70 x 51cm
Edition size: 35
Price: R 7 250 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Goya's Hat and Cat
Medium: Eight colour lithograph
Size: 70 x 51cm
Edition size:35
Price: R 7 250 (excl.VAT)


Lithographs celebrating 70

Judith mason at work


Judith Mason applying 22k gold leaf to "Unshackled"


These prints celebrate the career of Judith Mason and coincide not only with her seventieth birthday but also with her retrospective exhibitions at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg and at the Sasol Gallery, University of Stellenbosch. In these lithographs Judith Mason proves that she is a fine graphic artist. Her total control of line, shading and form delights the eye.

Artists Statement:

"As I am about to enter my eighth decade, I decided to create a portfolio of eight prints to celebrate(!) the occasion. A portfolio, which would explore some of the themes that have tantalised me all my life. Then followed a few happy weeks of collaboration with the printers who patiently proofed my work and its numerous corrections, and made me feel that I knew what I was doing". Judith Mason, September 2008

Please note that as the prints in this series are sold out they are placed into Mason's archive and can be seen there.

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Title: Wardrobe
Medium: Two colour lithograph
Size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
Edition size: 35
Price: R 5 520 (excl.VAT)
Artist's Statement: 'Wardrobe" is the most light hearted of the prints. I love snakes, although I fear some of them, and enjoy having them as neighbours. A boomslang lived in the roof of my house for a while, scandalising the local sparrows. Every now and then I find sloughed skins, and the two which I drew for this print were still damp and beautifully supple when I found them. Making a serpentine pun of an ordinary wire coat hanger, and draping the skins like clothing, amused me.

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Title: Searching for the Soul
Medium: Three colour lithograph
Size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
Edition size: 35
Price: R 5 520 (excl.VAT)
Artist's Statement: "Searching for the Soul" addresses my fondness for primates and the certainty that I am closely related to them. It also expresses my belief that we cannot ever possess religious certainty, and that debates about the soul's location are both a waste of time and enormously enjoyable. The grubby pragmatism of the monkeys is in deliberate contrast to the rather facile classical head that splits apart like a pomegranate.

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Title: Adam
Medium: Five colour lithograph
Size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
Edition size: 35
Price: R 5 520 (excl.VAT)
Artist's Statement: "Adam" stands like a candlestick with the torso as a flame surrounded by a deliberately demanding after-image of light, as if the viewer is blinking against the light he sees. The legs of Adam are woven together in a vein-like plait behind his knees, to suggest that his handicaps are intrinsic to his being.

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Title: Descent from the Cross
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
Edition size: 35
Price: R 5 520 (excl.VAT)
Artist's Statement: "Descent from the Cross" is one of my favourite subjects and I have painted several versions. This lithograph is a variant on the image I used in the Purgatorio panel of "Walking with and away from Dante". The panel describes Purgatory as a temporal condition, and is an attempt to mend the wrongs wrought by us. A self-sufficient victim of crucifixion is an element in its rather complicated visual argument.

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Title: Man at Battle Grinning
Medium: Four colour lithograph
Size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
Edition size: 35
Price: R 5 520 (excl.VAT)
Artist's Statement: "Man at Battle Grinning" gets its title from a line in Patrick Cullinan's poem, "For Rebecca, born at Midwinter", and also refers to the suicide bomber depicted in one of the Inferno panels in "Walking with and away from Dante". The mouth is reprised as an open shout on the forehead - a wound, and a war-cry. I used drawings of augers to create a sense of weaponry and armour.

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Title: Unshackled
Medium: Single colour lithograph with hand-applied 22k gold leaf
Size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
Edition size: 35
Price: R 5 520 (excl.VAT)
Artist's Statement: "Unshackled" derives from an image I used at the bottom of Paradise in "Walking with and away from Dante". The chain-ladder was found on a Cape farm, and the feet were derived from an x-ray plate, and my memory of the gold-plated toes of the Pharaoh in Tutankhamun's tomb. I wanted to incorporate several ideas about shuffling off one's mortal coil, not just a Christian concept of the soul's liberation.

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