Jason Mason’s Objects End Up in Unexpected Places

Jason Mason takes your average household tool and transposes it onto graphic landscapes as a commentary on an altered reality. Citing Renee Magritte as one of his favorite artists, Mason draws heavily on the Surrealist movement by making us question our perception of the world and our innocuous subconscious. He says himself, “you cannot hammer or clamp the sea or sweep up the sand dunes.” By taking the mundane and elevating it, he explores new topics steeped in symbolism. The works are simple and beautiful but refined in detail and the apparent disconnect between the object and the landscape makes for an even more interesting experience. Mason keeps an open mind when looking towards the future. He’s working in this current style now, but he says that could always change, and it makes us wonder what his works might look like after the surreal circumstances in which we currently live have passed.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from originally and when did art first enter your life?

I was born in San Antonio, Texas. My parents met hitch hiking and were married shortly after I was born. They split up sometime before I turned two years old. They were basically kids themselves. My mother was 19. An artistic streak runs in my family. My grandmother’s sister and my mother were exceptional artists. Art has always been in my life. I cannot remember a time when it wasn’t. My mom would take me to work with her where she waited tables and set me up in an unoccupied banquet room with pens, crayons and markers and encouraged me to draw. She would come in and check up on me every 5-10 minutes in between taking orders for hungry customers. I was very happy and self contented to do this. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t drawing. Growing up, I was always the kid in class drawing pictures for everyone. It has always been with me.
“Sky Saw”  30 x 50 in. Acrylic on canvas 2019. Photo by Paul Ruscha and courtesy of the artist.
What is a perfect day in the studio for you?

A perfect studio day for me consists of losing myself in a painting. Painting for me is a meditation. I lose all thought. Breaking for food seems to be an inconvenience. And when I do stop, I cannot stop looking at the painting. If I have a visitor, you will catch me looking past them or over their shoulder to catch a glimpse of my unfinished work. Silently making calculations and plotting my next moves. An unfinished painting will “stare” at me and I am compelled to answer. Every so often I will wrestle with a painting like an alligator…..eventually taming it and bending it to my will. But a perfect studio day is more on the meditation side of things.

“The Sea Clamp”  25 x 30 in. Acrylic on canvas 2020. Photo by Paul Ruscha and courtesy of the artist.
How do you connect the foreground and background of your works and what is the meaning behind that relationship?

The word “back” ground is misleading to me because sometimes it is the star of the show. Quietly lending its support to subject matter in the foreground. In my recent series of tools the background played a major role in that they were chosen for their ironic relationship to the subject. For example you cannot hammer or clamp the sea or sweep up the sand dunes.

“The Broom of Futility” 30 x 30 in. Acrylic on canvas  2019. Photo by Paul Ruscha  and courtesy of the artist.

Has your work always taken on the style it currently embodies?

My style of painting has always been quite detailed. I enjoy spending long hours perfecting my subject. I’m not sure if this is to achieve a perfect result or just to spend more time in the act of creating. A balancing act between the two I suppose. I tend to lean more toward the process than the product though.
“The Hammer of Tranquility”  30 x 50 in. Acrylic on canvas 2019. Photo by Paul Ruscha and courtesy of the artist.

From where do you draw inspiration?

My inspiration is more based in objects than in figurative work. I’m not super interested in people that much. Not to say that I won’t be one day. Hopefully my inspiration is an evolving force that will shift and grow as I do.

Photo by Paul Ruscha and courtesy of the artist.
How would you describe your personal style and does that ever translate into your work?
I really don’t know how to describe my personal style… but I’m sure it’s in my work somewhere.
What response do you attempt to evoke from your work?
I enjoy it if people respond to my work. But I am not engineering my paintings to draw anything out of anyone. I do the artwork to satisfy a desire within myself and put it out into the world. Whatever response one has to it is personal to them in the same way it is personal to me. Kind of like a song.
“Like Nails on a Chalkboard”  30 x 50 in. Acrylic on canvas 2020. Photo by Paul Ruscha  and courtesy of the artist.
Does your work reference any Art Historical movements?
I tend to focus on specific artists more than movements. Rene Magritte has been a major influence. I enjoy his concepts pertaining to the relationships of objects to one another. For example his 1933 work “Elective Affinities.” In this painting we see a large egg in a bird cage instead of a bird.
“Just Scratching the Surface”  25 x 30 in.  Acrylic on canvas  2019. Photo by Paul Ruscha and courtesy of the artist.
What’s next for you?

What’s next for me? Hmmmm …. more painting. I really do love to paint, but perhaps some sculptures could be on the horizon. I’m not one of those people who can plot out their moves too far into the future. I’m terrible at chess and just recently learned how to pay their bills before the late notices come.
At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
Artists I’d recommend would be Senon Williams his Instagram is @senonwill.
Also Francesca Gabbiani and Scott Kahn.