Organized Chaos

AD Architectural Digest India|November 2019

Organized Chaos
A gift from her husband, the Tadao Ando-designed home and studio of Belgian artist Saskia Pintelon in Sri Lanka is strikingly evocative of her stark, spirited, and deeply intimate art
Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
I first saw Belgian artist Saskia Pintelon’s work in a private collection in Colombo. The painting mounted on a tall grey wall was stark and simple, thick circles of tar black overlapping, evoking a mood of contemplation as well as despair. That work, as so many of her others, had an oceanic quality: commanding, inscrutable, daunting, private, full of risk as well as reprieve. “It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing and stretching one’s arms again,” [Mark] Rothko said once, when describing his work.

Perhaps Pintelon is inspired by Rothko—some of her work pays him a kind of oblique homage, although it quickly tears off into its own original turf of witch power and personal symbology. Though you are reminded of Rothko when you look at Pintelon’s work, you come to admire that their similarities are vital but their divergences have been dazzling. Pintelon brings to her work market wit, island indolence, smart concision, deep-sea light; the tropical veins of Sri Lanka run through her canvases, imbuing resilience and doom, inexplicable delight, a broken-hearted tenderness for ideas and for a lost time. Her subjects are women, and families; they are abstractions that pay service to Sri Lanka’s narrative of loss and cunning; she is drawn to markets and to the sea, to children.

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November 2019