About The Artist

Artist Photo

1938 - 2016

Artist Biography

Judith Mason was born in Pretoria, in 1938. She matriculated at the Pretoria High School for Girls in 1956. She attended the University of Witwatersrand from 1957 and obtained a BA Degree in Fine Art in 1960. Her first solo exhibition was at Gallery 101, Johannesburg, in 1964 after winning second prize in U.A.T competition (1963).

Judith Mason's work is drawn or painted in reaction to her world: political events, comments that she has read, snippets of history or poetry which have caught her eye, or the experience of particular people or animals which are usually used in a symbolic context.

She was chosen to represent South Africa at the Venice Biennale in 1966 and took part in various Valparaiso and Sao Paolo Biennales in the 1970s. She taught painting at the University of the Witwatersrand (1963-78), the University of Pretoria, the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town, Scuola Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence, Italy from 1989-91 and acted as external examiner for under-graduate and post-graduate degrees at Pretoria, Potchefstroom, Natal, Stellenbosch and Cape Town Universities. During this time, her work became part of the National South African School and University curricula.

Today, with a career that spans more than 45 years, Judith Mason is one of South Africa’s most distinguished artists, working in a variety of media: oil painting, pencil drawing, print-making and mixed media. Mason is a technically disciplined artist, her technique has moved from the abstract of her earlier works to trompe l'oeil and delicately detailed passages in contrast to paint washes and splash marks.

She has exhibited frequently in South Africa in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Stellenbosch and George at various galleries such as the Goodman Gallery, Chelsea Gallery, Association of Arts Pretoria, Association of Arts Cape Town, Hout Street Gallery, Strydom Gallery, Dorp Street Gallery, Art on Paper, and Karen Mackerron Gallery. She has held exhibitions abroad in Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, Chile, West Germany, Switzerland and the USA.

She has works in all major South African art collections as well as private and public collections in Europe and the U.S.A such as Yale University, and The Bodleian Library, Oxford. Public commissions include tapestries in collaboration with Margaret Stephens and stained–glass window designs for the Great Park Synagogue in Johannesburg.

Artist Statement

"I paint in order to make sense of my life, to manipulate various chaotic fragments of information and impulse into some sort of order, through which I can glimpse a hint of meaning. I am an agnostic humanist possessed of religious curiosity who regards making artworks as akin to alchemy. To use inert matter on an inert surface to convey real energy and presence seems to me a magical and privileged way of living out my days."

Judith Mason, 2004


Artist CV

1938: Born Judith Seelander Menge in Pretoria

1977: Became a full-time artist

1980: Visited India and Nepal for the first time

1989 - 1991: Lived in Italy

1991 – 2000: Lived in Cape Town

Education

  • 1956: Marticulated at Pretoria High School for Girls
  • 1962: BA (Fine Art), University of the Witwatersrand

Employment

  • 1961: Taught at the Wits Technical Art School, Johannesburg
  • 1962-67: Lectures in History of Art at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
  • 1969-73: Part-time lecturer at University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
  • 1986: Visiting lecturer at University of Pretoria.
  • 1989 - 91: Taught at the Scoula Lorenzo de' Medici, Florence, Italy
  • 1993: Part-time lecturer at Michaelis at Uuniveristy of Cape Town
  • 1993 – 1997: External examiner at Potchefstroom, Pretoria, Cape Town, and Stellenbosch for Undergraduate and Masters Degrees

Exhibitions

  • 1964: First solo exhibition at Gallery 101
  • 1966: Represents South Africa at the Venice Biennale, Italy
  • 1973: Represents South Africa at the Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil
  • 1975: Prestige solo exhibition at Pretoria Art Museum
  • 1978: Guest artist with Marguerite Stephens at Johannesburg Art Gallery
  • 1979: Valparaiso Biennale
  • 1980: Participated in the Chile and Houston Arts Festival, USA
  • 1982: Prestige solo exhibition at Rand Afrikaans University
  • 1984: Basel Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland.
  • 1986: Association of Arts, Windhoek, Namibia
  • 2006-2008: Major installation: Walking with and away from Dante
  • October 2008 – March 2009: Major retrospective Prospect of Icons at Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg and Sasol Museum, Stellenbosch, Cape Town
  • December 2009 Exibit at Art Basel Miami Beach, Florida, USA

Commissions

  • 1976: First major commission: tapestry in collaboration with Marguerite Stephens for the Royal Hotel, Durban
  • Tapestry for P.A.C.O.F.S (Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State)
  • Tapestry for N.A.PA.C (Natal Performing Arts Council)
  • Tapestry for P.A.C.T (Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal)
  • Foyer mural for Anglo-Vaal Corporation
  • Ceiling painting for Students' Union building, Potchefstroom University
  • Oils for Kessel-Feinstein Collection, Johannesburg

Public Collections (Local)

  • South African National Gallery, Cape Town
  • George IV Gallery, Port Elizabeth
  • Durban Art Museum, Durban
  • Ann Bryant Museum, East London
  • Tatham Gallery, Pietermaritzburg
  • William Humphries Gallery, Kimberley
  • Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
  • Rembrandt Foundation, Pretoria
  • Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
  • Mpumalanga Legislative Collection, Nelspruit
  • Olievenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein
  • Sasol
  • Engen
  • Telkom SA
  • University of South Africa, Pretoria
  • Anglo American Collection
  • Anglo-vaal Collection
  • Sandton Municipal Collection, Johannesburg
  • Rand Afrikaans University
  • Constitutional Court, Johannesburg
  • JCI Collection
  • Gertrude Posel Gallery

Public Collections (Abroad)

  • University of St John, Newfoundland, USA
  • The Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK
  • Yale University, USA

Awards

  • 1963: One of the winners of Gallery 101's art competition: 'Arbeid-Work'

Publications

  • 1989: Talking Pictures Essays printed and published by the Broederstroom Press.
  • 1990: A Dante Bestiary (Ombondi Editions, NY) Printed by Bruce Attwood, The Broederstroom Press.
  • 1992: Selected Poems by Patrick Cullinan, Artists' Edition printed by Mark Attwood, The Artists' Press.
  • Mixed media portfolio in collaboration with poet Ted Townsend.