ROBIN MASON :
Personal information :
Nationality : British
Date of Birth : 1958
Place of Birth : Porthcawl, South Wales
1976-1977 Cardiff Art College
1977-1980 Wolverhampton Polytechnic
1981-1984 Royal College of Art, London
1985 Roger Francis Gallery, London
1989 Andrew Knight Gallery, Cardiff
1992 Long and Ryle Art International, London
1992 Galerie zur alten deutschen Schule, Thun, Switzerland
1994 Galerie zur alten deutschen Schule, Thun, Switzerland
1995 Glynn Vivian Art Gallery & Museum, Swansea
1995 Lamont Gallery, London
1995 Galerie Fossati, Basel, Switzerland
1997 Nielson & Wuethrich International Fine Art, Thun, Switzerland
1997 Lamont Gallery, London
2000 Arthus Gallery, Brussels
Many group exhibitions
1979 First Prize, Northern Young Contemporaries
1983 J. Andrew Lloyd Scholarship for Landscape Painting
1984 Burston Award for Painting
1989 First Prize, Cleveland International Drawing Biennale
1989 First Prize and Trophy Winner Royal Overseas League
Royal College of Art
Government Art Collection
Walt Disney Productions
Diamond Trading Company
Cleveland County Council
Rosehaugh Stanhope Plc.
Leicestershire Education Authority
London Underground (Purchase Commission for Underground Poster)
a walk through the museums and churches of Antwerp will lead you to the sex industry which has grown up around the docks, with its streets now full of windows with prostitutes in booths, three to a shop, presenting their wares and advertising the possibilities that each can deliver. Then into a side door of a church and Rubens, van Eyck et al all greet you on the walls once again. Within this triangle of Antwerp I began to wonder at my poisons, passions, dilemmas, intrigues, realities, untruths, the never ending circle of sexual/religious fact or fiction. A lead based skin that protects and poisons all at once – to fill with awe one moment – to fill with total despair the next. Theatrical portraits of the events around the crucifixion inhabit Antwerp. The blood flows on the surface of the painting, on the body, as if both the body of Christ and the painting are bleeding. Fear and sorrow portrayed by Rubens from, but not in the time of Christ’s crucifixion, set in a contemporary context as if it were there in the streets of Antwerp, witnessed by the clothed people of fashionable society. Brutal, sad , sensual, real, not the nudge nudge, wink wink of the British Rubens attitude, but the reality of death, dealing with a factual crucifying/killing witnessed, mirroring the facts, inhabiting the everyday lives of all. Forced out of reformation Rubens compromised in London as seen in the National Gallery – tits and arses – creating his own downfall here, whereas at home he was monolithic. Who can doubt the event ? Reflecting on mans ability to slay – crosses cut into Muslims chest by Serbs, a child found in a wood crucified to a tree (1990’s in Europe). Religious torment, politics in disguise. But still the humane facts of loss and the sensual richness of the flesh fabrics and light owe more to the sublime communications to the paintings than the religious event. The mythological works made in Britain can seem trivial against the might of Rubens crucifixion series. To see them all together in one place in sequence would be to view one of the most powerful series of paintings ever made.
But does this now place an order in the trinity as we journey home; the pornography on Canal+ once again closes the circle into its never-ending spin of art, sex and religion. In Grunewald’s Altarpiece the torments of St Anthony are exemplified by the presence of a vaginal image about the size of a person bearing from his robe. 17th century German manuscripts represented the wounds and nails of the crucifixion with images of vaginas and penis’ ,re directing the libido from the every day into images of religious reverie, giving direction and reason for the urges and needs of the sexual being. Political manipulations of religion censored any use of symbolism, giving the sexual possibilities no where to journey rekindling into frustrations and sermons on sin. The power of Grunewald’s crucifixion bears witness to the journeys of the life force, sex and death there in subconscious communion unlocking in many contemporary viewers unrecognised deep-seated emotions.
Political correctness could require non-verbalisation of the sexual desires, but there in disguise are the same rules created by the church. To deny is to lie. The echoing hypocrisy of priest protesting and moralising just to be discovered to have been having it away with the house keeper or appearing in court for sex offences with children, makes these people tumble from their self created ivory towers, unravelling that innocent belief they wove. This innocent view of sex religion and art always will be shattered. The wonder of who we are, where we come from, where we’re going, drips away and forms at times into physical or mental states of being that can create verbal or visual parallels or attempts to make parallels / sense / form of those inner things we call thoughts / emotions / senses. This can come together to possibly parallel or unlock others cluttered minds, perhaps to bring order for one moment , to the underestimated, trivial, huge, untalked about, unthought, unrealised emotions, maybe creating a sentimental journey unlocked by poetic images (Poetic image – see Bachelards introductions to The Poetics of Space).
Between a Rock and a Hard On is the title of a floor based on work made following a visit ot the <lower Rhine Land. The confidence and focus of Post War German Art passes beyond tentative possibilities. The cross influence and decisiveness is infectious. So much Brit Art of the 80s & 90s owes a huge debt to the riches and explorations of these Post War artists. This visit focussed a series of new work that had been developing from Rubens paintings in Antwerp. The Raising of the Cross. The Crucifixion and The Deposition, a subject I have always scratched around, needed to be grasped and dealt with. The extraordinary scale and physicality of pain in Rubens religious works became apparent in Brussels where the passages of paint, so fresh, retained the swathing brush strokes as if Rubens has just walked out of the door. This surprise at colour, scale, composition and freshness led to the journey to Antwerp. This was counteracted by a visit to Schloss Moyland where 4000 early Beuys drawings and box constructions are housed alongside the Joseph Beuys archive – the sheer out put of a never resting extraordinary mind was apparent.
Rubens the Artist / Politician, Beuys the Artist / Politician, both have become spearheads of the artists around them, great examples of the infectious energy that can pour from and into others.
Non conservative, awe-inspiring outputs of lives from fragile flawed human beings.
Alongside the wall and floor based work in this Passion series I made site-specific work, drawing the Passion in chalk on the landscape of Wales (“One day even London will be covered in grass” – Anselm Kiefer). All we make has started to decay on the journey to total disintegration, the destiny of nature destroying ours and it’s very existence. These drawings speeded up and respected this consequence, returning to the land through the erosion of the sea, wind and rain. Existing as a gift of the history of art to the land, a souvenir momentarily re enacting the Stations of the Cross. Compromising my pure non-commercial instincts concerning this work. I filmed it, giving the drawings a while longer to exist – Transient Drawings, from Antwerp to Porthcawl. I don’t have the answers to this Passion or the right questions, but I do feel a little closer to understanding the total frustrations on the disappearing, reappearing events that highlight the journeys we make in the search for answers.