Charles Mason, in his sculptures, deploys a deceptively minimal approach. Sculptural forms that are more usually found in public urban spaces are brought into the gallery. They resemble enclosures, handrails and barriers, structures to aid and guide to support and protect. Objects that should be defined by a proper form and a proper use, here, Mason lacquers, paints and covers in insulating tape giving them a faintly utopian modernist aura. They appear to imitate and propose memories of practical function, which immediately implicate the viewer but in this context are inappropriate. Instead the sculptures seem undergoing some physical torment of their own to even survive as sculptures They are secured, chained and in one case subjected to a blow - torch.

The sculptures question our own physical boundaries as a way of creating meaning and their boundary role as sculpture.

Charles Mason
1962, Exeter - 2013, London


EDUCATION
1987-1989
Slade School of Art, University Collage London (Postgraduate Sculpture)

1981-1984
Bristol School of Art, University of the west of England (1st Class Hons)


SOLO SHOWS

2018
Images manquantes - Group Show, Galerie Escougnou-Cetraro, Paris, France


2016
Early Works, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris - views HERE

2013
Charles Mason 1962-2013, Union Gallery, London
Solo Show, included in 3 days in Paris, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris - exhibition views HERE

2011
Hanging Together, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE

2010
Structure and other anxieties, Nettie Horn Gallery, London
Backsliding, Union Gallery, London

2009
Structure and other anxieties, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE

2008
New sculptures, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE

2007
Intervention, Campo Sant Agnese, with the 52nd Venice Biennial
Charles Mason, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE

2004
Charles Mason, Station, Phoenix Wharf, Bristol

2000
Cul-de-sac, Oratorio di san Ludivico, Nuova Icona, Venice
Charles Mason, Transit space, London

1999
Cuckoo, 48th Venice Biennial, Nuova Icona, Venice

1997
Charles Mason, British School at Rome

1995
Forms of Love, Coopers & Lybrand, London

1994
Eight Sculptures, Henrietta House, London

1989
Artist of the Day, Flowers East, London


GROUP SHOWS
2018
Images manquantes - Group Show, Galerie Escougnou-Cetraro, Paris, France

2016
The Past is The Past, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris - exhibition views HERE
Peinture d'architecture
, Le Garage, Brive

2014
Mécaniques du dessin, FRAC Limousin, Limoges
Quelque chose à vous dire, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris - exhibition views HERE
Les dérivés de la photographie. Lumière noire, Frac Aquitaine, Bordeaux

2013
Pièces Montrées / Frac Alsace 30 Ans de Collection, Fondation Fernet-Branco, Saint Louis
The opinion Makers, Enclave Gallery, London
Campagnes/ Campagne, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE
L'espace de l'autre, works of the collection of the artothèque de Pessac - Les arts au mur, Centre d'art et photographie, Lectoure
Manufacture, Kunsthaus CentrePasquArt, Biel
Volta 08, Union gallery, Basel
Artbrussels, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Brussels - exhibition views HERE
Repetition, Gallery at Angus-Hughes, London

2011
Méfiance, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE
Manufacture, Parc Saint Léger
Manufacture II, Hansard Gallery, Southampton
My friend & I, 21rozendaal, Enschede
ArtBrussels, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Brussels - exhibition views HERE
FIAC, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Grand Palais, Paris - exhibition views HERE
Il est si doux..., Châtau Giscours, Margaux - exhibition views HERE

2010
Line Journey, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London
Matériaux divers et autres bonnes nouvelles, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE

2009
FIAC, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Cour Carrée du Louvre, Paris - exhibition views HERE

2008
Extérieur Jour: Charles Mason, Masahide Otani, Vittorio Santoro, Immanence, Paris
Parallax, Fieldgate Gallery, London

2007
FIAC, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Cour Carrée du Louvre, Paris
Et comme ça c'est mieux ? - oui là c'est bien, Liste - The young art fair, Basel

2006
Room Editions, ROOM TOO, London
Liste 06 - The young art fair, Basel
FIAC, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Cour Carrée du Louvre, Paris
Picnic area (dumb interior), Chris Barr, Michael Dean, Brian Griffiths, Charles Mason, Mike Ricketts, Richard Woods, ROOM, Bristol

2005
Föhn, Chelsea space, London
Urban Formalism/Urbain Formalisme, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico & Capc Musée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE
Citysellingcitytelling, Sparwasser HQ, Berlin

2003
Scenery, 50th Venice Biennial, Nuova Icona, Venice
Scenery, (Adam Caruso, Wim Delvoye, Charles Mason, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Naomi Wilkinson), Richard Salmon Gallery, London

2001
Starting over, Charles Mason and Maurizio Pelligrin, The Italian Cultural Institute, London

2000
New Work, Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield

1999
Physical Evidence, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge
Thinking Aloud, Hayward Gallery NTE, Camden Arts Centre, London
Physical Evidence, Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham

1998
Transitional, Nuova Icona, Venice
ArtFutures, CAS, Royal Festival Hall, London

1997
Ninth Mostyn Open, Oriel Mostyn, Wales
Arte Inglese, The British School at Rome
Torri D'avvistamento, Tuscania

1996
Whitechapel Open, Whitechapel Gallery, London
Seventh Mostyn Open, Oriel Mostyn, Wales

1994
Shelf Life, Eagle Gallery, London
Brick LaneTwo, Princes Street, London
Fifth Mostyn Open, Oriel Mostyn, Wales

1992
A Simple Twist of Fate, The Riverside Studios, London
Brick Lane One, Princes Street, London

1991
Young Artists in Focus, London Art Fair, London


EXHIBITION CATALOGUES
2004
Simon Wallis, Charles Mason
Sally O'Rielly, Scenery ( ISBN 88-87632-19-7)
Martin Herbert, Canvass the town and brush the backdrop : On scenery, (ISBN 88-87632-19-7)

2000
Simon Wallis, Cul-de-sac, Charles Mason, (ISBN 88-87632-07-3)

1999
Simon Wallis, Charles Mason, Physical Evidence, (ISBN 0 907074 71 5),p.39

1998
Augusto Pieroni, Charles Mason, Transitional, (ISBN 88-9000111-6-5)

1997
Augusto Pieroni, Charles Mason, The British School at Rome


PUBLICATIONS
2010
Zoë Gray, Through A Glass Darkly (II), Charles Mason (ISBN 978 1 874092 41 4), 2010
Marie Canet, Love Theory in Suspension, the work of Charles Mason

2009
Zoë Gray, Through A Glass Darkly


CONFERENCES
Faculty of Art and Design, University of Venice
British School at Rome, Italy
Bristol Faculty of Art and Design, UWE, Bristol
Kettle's Yard Gallery, Cambridge
Norwich School of Art and Design, Norwich
Ruskin School of Art, Oxford
Slade School of Art, UCL, London


AWARDS & GRANTS
2005
British Council Grant

2003
British Council Grant

2000
British Council Grant

1999
British Council Grant

1999
Individual Artist Award, London Arts Board

1998
British Council Grant

1996
The Rome Scholar in Sculpture, British School at Rome

1984
Rebecca Smith Award in Fine Art


COLLECTIONS
FRAC Aquitaine
FRAC Alsace
Les arts au mur, Artothèque de Pessac
Artothèque du Limousin

Love Theory in Suspension


Equilibrium is less a question of gravity and weight, than a question of balance. Instead of weight relative to mass, balance is the result of a smooth collusion of strengths and expectations experienced through friction or of shock felt during any encounter. Charles Mason's Between you and me (2008) is not just the reflection of a spectator incapable of reaching the other side of the mirror, but at once the representation and the object of that representation prevented by a reflection of oneself - of one's ego perhaps - in the endless black mirror of a transparent screen of Perspex. It is above all a power struggle, a game of exchange and balance that structures all organisations and all relationships.

So let us formulate the hypothesis that Charles Mason's sculptures are for the most part compositions emancipated from formlism and charged with poetics of affect. If we attribute feelings and psychologies to these objects, they become an image of a group or a position, united, inseparable - inseparable because united, a societal organisation and a relational space. Balance in this sense is the sine qua none of equilibrium, based on notions of weight and counterweight, of rivalry and negociation, of vision, tensions and flexibilities, of equivalent and mutual exchanges.

The latest groups of Charles Mason's sculptures are fixed structures all about balance. Skeletal and muscular systems based on a strict organisation, they are architecture-worlds and balancing acts, where a black, shiny translucent screen support itself on metal struts countering "The Thing", a concrete and serpentine shape, sometimes covered totally or patially with porcelain scales. The physically answer the problematic of equilibrium, weightlessness with mutual support - theirs is a chic aesthetic posture. They are the encounter of textural antinomies, through contact and collage : the metal plays against the mirror effect of the Perspex, which plays against the concrete, which in turn plays against the mosaic. The meeting points are solid and secure, for should one component slip the whole edifice collapses. Doubtless from this springs "the anxiety" that Mason uses in the title for two of his exhibitions in 2009 and 2010.

In this way, Crutch (2010), a chair back, slightly magnified, moulded in polished bronze, resting in a corner gives the impression of a strange awkward object, disproportionate and amputated, unusable. Materially supercharged in bronze, but immediately put aside, the object is the proscription of a sick shape, worried, isolated form - unlike the other works which are frozen in their own combination systems - for Crutch - there is nothing for it to really worry unduly over.

In his essay Peri Bathous, the Art of Sinking in Poetry (1727), Alexander Pope coined the word Bathos to describe a fall from the sublime to the ridiculous that produces moments of (unintentional) comedy in would-be solemn poems. The bathetic style, Pope suggested, is distinguished from the true sublime by an absurd combination of antinomies making verse a form of stupidity. The meaning of the term bathos has noticeably shifted ; it is now sometimes used to describe something that is so pathetic and poignant that it becomes comic - to the point where the solmnity whithin a bathetic production becomes "a seriousness that fails". Such is the condition that afflicts Crutch. Here the chair back that usually supports its user is confined to a corner of the exhibition space and is able to stand thanks only to the kindness of a stranger, the wall : an embarrassing situation for an object that resembles a crutch. In Dummy (2010), the shapeless "Thing" poses in front of its own reflection, maintaining its upright posture due only to a perfectly equal "rapport de force" ; it remains a narcissistic structure, performing open-mouthed, stupefied by its own image. In holding such a balanced posture of elegance it could be an allegorical architectural representation of a love relationship, or the Dandy in the story who placed a mirror in front of his bed to have the pleasure of watching himself sleep. The optical effect of the three panels deployed in Backsliding (2010) is of a folding screen hiding nothing, showing everything (and more) through a kaleidoscopic effect of multiple reflections. When the spectator's body does not interfere, two twin "Things" are mirrored, rather like Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles in the mirrored corridor of the Lady from Shanghai. The "Thing" and we, its spectators are creatures caught in a trap, living in a world of images, of forms and reflections on the border of day - dreams.
«Camp taste doesn't propose that it is in bad taste to be serious», writes Susan Sontag, «It doesn't sneer at someone who succeeds in being seriously dramatic. What it does is to find the success in certain passionates failures». Mason's work is a game of improbable balances, maintained with an almost comic dignity, often absurd, and couloured with humour and irony. This shapeless, feminine "Thing" dressed as if for a night of clubbing on the town, is suspended, transfixed by its own reflection, balancing in unnatural positions like an acrobatic tight-rope walker in a cricus, producing a sculptural group at the crossroads of formalism, architecture and pole-dancing.


Marie Canet