Why are the Roses so Pale?
Why are the Roses so Pale? Hangar18, Brussels 2015 -Visitors were invited to enter the bold and varied installations of drawings, prints, etchings, collaborative sculptures and display sheds. Imagery from funfairs, crucifixions and museums leads to the monumental 3 x 6 m Encounter, a stylistic mix of painting where two one eyed pink deer gaze out of the painting at us gazing at them as the forest and the coast grip onto a littering of metamorphosed objects as the high horizon’s use of deep perspective opens up a sense of nostalgia.
The work is truly Metamodernist in its engagement and quotations from the history of painting, contemporary art and design and popular cultures vast reservoir of freely available imagery. He reflects on a childhood journey across Germany, Böcklin’s “Isle of the Dead” and Grünewald’s “Isenheim Altarpiece” (that appears and disappears, as sometimes erotic metaphors, words and arrows). Stylistically Mason’s work has been described as Carroll Dunham meets Magritte.
With his referencing of Romantic Poetry, the title of the show Why are the Roses so Pale?, a reference to the work of 17th Century poet Heinrich Heine, Mason gives a clue to these dream landscapes. Inscribed onto one of a series of sculptural collaborative objects in the show, made with his wife Debra Allman is the Welsh word ‘Hiraeth’, a word which has no direct translation, it is a call to those who were born there, a feeling, a deep longing and nostalgia that stirs the soul to return. This yearning and longing fuels Mason’s London based studio. Hiraeth is his muse as he paints the things he’s seen, experienced and thought about into a landscape that is constantly the beach in Wales. Mason describes it not as an unpleasant feeling, but something that seems to be more related to a calling from the coast.
Why are The Roses So Pale explores a number of themes that have remained central to Mason’s practice for a period of over 20 years. At the heart of these lies an obsession with a sense of place, a number of key works from art’s dark history and a need to find a way to express the things that words alone can’t. Through the ecstatic and pressingly contemporary resolutions in Mason’s surreal and quirky transcriptions he hopes to entangle the viewer into an upbeat enhancing experience.