Online-Only Auction, 16 - 23 August 2021
About this Item
In Judith Mason artist’s books, A Dante Bestiary and the Selected Poems of Patrick Cullinan, paintings and drawings are a continuation of the writing in each case, just as the writing is a prolongation of painting and drawing, in turn. She does not indulge one form in place of the other or elucidate the one form of expression using the other. These two, painting and drawing, or art, and writing, are disciplines of being that share the same means. The painting and drawing and the writing are autonomous, yet intertwined.
The Bestiary celebrates Dante Alighieri’s famous poem, The Divine Comedy, and Mason draws all the creatures to which Dante refers: the lion, the leopard, the wolf, the eagle, horses, sheep and goats, as well as such mythological creatures as minotaurs and phoenixes. In explaining her choice of ‘beast’, Mason invokes a quote by Claude Levy-Strauss, saying that animals are not only good to eat, they are good to think with as well.1
The artist’s book, Selected Poems by Patrick Cullinan, contains 40 lithographs, four drawings and one painting.
Walking with and Away from Dante, is a miniature replication of an original large-scale installation, consisting of two panels, two metres by six metres, depicting Dante’s Inferno on the one side and Purgatory on the other. In front of these two panels, mobile forms were placed, referencing the manifold creatures and mythological fires to which Dante refers in The Divine Comedy. The present lot is a box set of books of various forms, including detailed texts written by Mason, digital prints and finely crafted ‘actors’ and ‘stage sets’. The whole work is a combination of exquisite creativity, craftsmanship and attention to detail.
1 Judith Mason (1989). ‘An Essay on Encountering Dante’s Creatures’, in Judith Mason, A Dante Bestiary, New York: Ombondi Editions.
Standard Bank Gallery (2008). Judith Mason: A Prospect of Icons, Johannesburg: Standard Bank Gallery, illustrated in colour on page 120.