Mahony’s goal remains a complete departure from representation toward total abstraction. Paintings like View Through the Trees suggest her growing ability to distill and reduce color and gesture to its sparsest, most essential expressions. The foliage is depicted as amorphous areas of leaf color and sporadic brown lines help indicate what we’re supposed to be seeing. Mahony’s transcendent union of her painting’s formal qualities and her uninhibited, physical expression formulates these paintings into a single vision.
Antique Roses is among Mahony’s newest work and demonstrates her aptitude for combining organic and geometric forms. Painted on a canvas surface, this work stands astride abstract and representational realms and silently invites viewers to discover or discern the subject matter while simultaneously delighting in the effects of color and varied texture. Mahony’s application of thick paint, use of areas of strong color, and division of these color areas through heavy linear elements, all constitute stylistic similarities to some of her earlier work.
Pansies #4 refers in its title to previous paintings in which Mahony used this subject as a vehicle for explorations relating to space, texture, and color. She does not so much paint the subject in question but instead render its essence on canvas as it were a memory that has been filtered through multiple exposures and observations. This piece then is less representational than it is descriptive or interpretive.
In the foreground of Mahony’s newer paintings, like Yellow Leaves, are gestural marks that stand for blades of grass, twigs, perhaps small shadows produced by footsteps or the wind. Mahony paints many of her landscapes before the scene or feature itself and therefore is frequently immersed in the environment that fascinates her. Her casually or spontaneously applied marks are in keeping with the abstract sensibility that characterizes most of her recent work, but the abstract beauty of the artistic gesture is perhaps only part of these marks’ appeal.
Her mark-making methods in certain areas have been a result of imitations of natural processes. Mahony explains, “I have tried to match the wildness of nature with a wild and physical application of paint.” In other words, like the wind can reach down, grab a twig, and deposit it several feet away, so too can Mahony as an all-powerful creator touch her brush upon the canvas and move her arm quickly, thus placing a mark upon the surface where one could not previously be found. While Mahony is a skilled artist in careful control of her composition at all times, she has found the freedom to not just transcribe her subject but also delight in mimicking the very forces of nature that sculpted the wonders set before her.
By Tahlia Aghily