Charles Mason 1962 - 2013

Ever and ever 2013

Charles Mason

Tongue 2013

Charles Mason

CHARLES MASON 1962 - 2013

06/04/2013 - 04/05/2013


Mason’s work, at once playful and unnerving, animates materials that are more commonly inanimate, obdurate and functional. His sculptures are marked by a tension between the materiality of the objects he uses and the plasticity of the feeling they evoke. Precariously balanced structures in concrete, rubber, ceramic tiles, wood and metal often appear tragicomic and self-mocking, at the edge of collapse and yet standing firm.

Ever and Ever 2013 is a sculpture of two circles of rubber chained together at a suspended axis. Like much of Mason’s work, the viewer must work out the asymmetry of the structure and consider its incongruities in terms of tension and balance. Held from a single nail, the structure of Ever and Ever is dependent on anomalous points of contact. Chained up on one side to the wall, its counterpart is supported by delicate crutches. The work is both reliant on its surroundings and removed from them, each component locked into an assemblage of uncertainty and co-dependency.

Mason’s sculptures are often seemingly under stress and under pressure, restricted by gravity yet held oddly in suspension, or pushed to the limits of their tensile strength. The soft, cartoonish mouth of Behind the Smile on my Face 2013 is a recurrent form in Mason’s work, one compounded by and at variance with its hard, fibrous concrete surface. Much like the protagonist in The Clockwork Orange (who is seen strapped to a chair, eyelids propped open, forced to watch violent films), Mason’s sculpture, positioned in midair by clamps, is held out from the wall and propped from the floor by force. Mason considers both the physical void behind the floating form and, with the melancholy suggestion of a song lyric, what human irony might be found beyond the sculpture - or ‘behind the smile’.

At 180 cm, Hung - up (double) 2013 is the exact height of the artist and like much of the artists work, mirrors and transposes human characteristics. In parallel with its title, the work is literally hung up and hung from the wall, the image of a tear drop might have given rise to its soft looping shape out of keeping with its coarse concrete medium.

The phallic-like shaped Rocker (II) 2013 continues Mason’s preoccupation with counter posing materials and performative titles. Whilst literally rocking on a concrete base, the structure alludes to the image of a self-regarding ‘old rocker’ perhaps - ‘rocking on’. Likewise leaning against a wall Tongue 2013, a lolling, Möbius strip-like form appears to protrude from the wall to lick the floor. In a meld of conflicting surfaces, the twisting concrete structure set with a surface of broken tiles met at the wall and floor by protective sheaths of foam rubber, foregrounds ideas of touch and touching. Mason often uses rubber tubing, particularly at entry and exit points of a sculpture, or where it rests on or against a surface. The rubber is positioned as if to protect and insulate the sculpture (either physically or psychologically), or perhaps insulate the viewer from a delicate pressure point.

Mason deliberately appropriates materials from our everyday built environment, modifying and extending the relationships we already have with them, altering perceptions of their utility. His is an inter-play between the categories and the properties of things taking place in a space where meaning is fluid.