Nic Mason Résidence 2018
A K Bellinger Gallery
18 October - November 2018
Résidence - Gallery
Résidence - catalogue
Résidence - essay Dr Gareth Jenkins
Nic Mason's present exhibition of paintings open up spaces to imagine yourself into. Much of the work was created while on residency in Marny-sur-Siene at Camac about an hour out of Paris - these works capture the strangeness of new places, wonderings about their unknown, but suggested stories.
A branch laid up against the wall - not decorative but mysteriously functional - a talisman for warding off evil spirits perhaps. Inevitably the eye slides into the dark opening that without revealing its secrets convinces you it has some.
This painting, like many in the exhibition, creates intrigue through narrative suggestion and a multiple focal point composition which, together, gives the works a deeply persuasive charisma.
A chair suggests past occupants. In the tangle of visible brush strokes you can almost see the wizened fingers of its long term owner clutching the armrests as she raises herself. The blue is also the blue of her dress, velvet maybe - something that records the trace of fingers trailing across it or the paws of the shadow dog that walks playfully through the absence of light.
Images Top to bottom and left to right: Antlers, 2017, oil on linen, 30 x 30 cm; Petit chien (small dog), 2018, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm; Chien (dog), 2018, oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm; and The cat the trunk and the mistletoe, 2017, oil on linen, 40 x 32 cm.
You will lean in to see how it is done. You will lean back and forget the minutia as the whole takes you over. The off-centre symmetry just right because of the almost imperceptible recurrence of brown in the case's shadow or the hint of primed canvas surfacing as if a scattering of glancing light.
And for all the intrigue here on the surface you are drawn deeper as the suitcase suggests its stories, narratives in its scarred leather, the many openings and closings of its worn latches rendered with a deft fusion of strokes that deconstruct on close inspection.
The case's body extends outside the frame as if caught in the act of coming, going. And the twisted branch, resting on the case like a sculptural artwork in its own right, gives life to its shadow on the wall, echoed again in the image above. And what is that dark shape in the top right corner and how can such an unassuming mark work so well to balance the whole?
Nic Mason's paintings simultaneously intrigue the eye and the mind generating a compelling charisma that draws the viewer into their intimately detailed scenes, so singular in character as to span the gap towards universal story making. There is a playfulness here, and the passage towards the unknown, there is the emptiness that is a waiting to be filled and there is that very human tendency we possess of imbuing the most ordinary of objects with a talismanic presence.
Ultimately Nic's paintings ask open ended questions, leaving space for the viewer to weave their own stories into these richly layered scenes.
Résidence 2018 - invite
Nic Mason, Lapin, oil on canvas 100 x 120 cm, private collection