Allusions to the natural world abounded. Plated Leaves from 1979 is an explosion of autumnal shades, while Well Watered (2013)—at 60 by 50 inches one of the biggest paintings in the show—has some of the exuberance and jewel-like colors of a tropical waterfall. A few paintings reached back in time to summon the ghost of Pierre Bonnard. Entrance (2012), in particular, with its clusters of shapes at the edges of a yellow-green field, recalls one of Bonnard’s sun-drenched summer idylls. Mason is at her most powerful when she exploits her medium’s capacity for translucence, as in the shock of neon colors at the far right of Monadnock (1985).
Spontaneity is, of course, one of the hallmarks of Color Field painting, and all of Mason’s paintings depend on spur-of-the-moment decisions. This is perhaps most evident in her works on paper, which recall the theatrics of mid-century abstraction. But Mason’s drama is of a quieter nature than her AbEx predecessors; she seems not afraid to please while firmly holding her ground.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 100.