"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” - Judith Mason, 2004.
Judith Mason, who passed away at the age of 78 on 29 December last year, was considered one of the foremost South African artists of her generation. She represented South Africa at the Venice Biennale (1966), the Sao Paulo Biennale (1971) and at international art fairs, like Art Basel (2009).
Mason received her art training at the University of the Witwatersrand. Since her her first solo exhibition in 1964, her work was characterised by mythological references, rich symbolism a strong social conscience. Politically aware, Mason made art in reaction to context, responding to the South African political landscape, literature and her personal interaction with people and animals.
In the late 80s Mason decided to leave South Africa on account of the country’s political climate, but she soon returned after the dawn of democracy in the early 1990’s. Shortly after she made two of her most poignant and celebrated works ‘The Woman who kept silent’, which is part of the Constitutional Court art collection. The work is a homage to female MK soldiers, expressing profound empathy for the strength and vulnerability of women during our country's struggle for freedom.
As a testament to her legacy, Mason's work is included in many major museums, Constitutional Court and corporate collections, not only in South Africa but also in collections in Europe, America and Australia including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Yale University, The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC.