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Jennifer Mason's Mysterious Minimalism

Shard by Jennifer Mason
10"x8" ($24) | 14"x11" ($60) | 20"x16" ($240) 

Like written language, calendars and eyeliner, Shard had its genesis in Egypt...just a few millennia later. After a long flight from her home base of Auckland, New Zealand, Jennifer Mason was struck by the scene outside her window as her plane descended into Egypt. She noticed “an incredible rose hue” blanketing the view below, an ambiance that persisted on the ground—a warm, hazy, low-contrast effect.

Mason’s trip to Egypt was also characterized by a sense of awe as the artist marveled at the sheer size and imposing nature of the monuments she encountered. Back in Auckland, Mason set out to create an image that echoed her experience, combining the bewitching rosy haze with the disorienting, mystifying magnitude of the structures she toured.

The Shard in this photograph is not as large as it may seem. It’s a fairly diminutive fragment of stone poised atop a relatively even and unshadowed surface of peachy sand, against a pastel background of a similar, slightly more saturated hue. While in sharp focus, the straight-on perspective, homogenous color palette, and restriction of crisp shadows to the object at center work together to blur our sense of position and dimension. The result is an image that’s both enticing and totally enigmatic.

Shard is as much Mason’s way of conveying the atmospheric, almost mythical quality she recalls from her trip to Egypt, as it is a portrayal of memory itself—indeterminate, illusory, and irresistibly intriguing. This is accomplished in part by the distinctive style and look of her work.

Though the object itself is an abstraction and the plane behind it deliberately flat, Mason treats her Shard as a still life. We see the same approach to surface and background in her other edition, Oranges. In both cases, the photographer turns the classic genre of still life imagery into an opportunity to explore color, shape and space in new, unexpected ways. And suddenly it becomes clear how something seemingly simple could so completely capture your attention.

With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200