Can abstract art be representational and non-representational? With regard to Saskia Pintelon’s oeuvre who is known for chronicling, life and death and everything in between and who is known as a figurative artist the answer to this question is yes. Her work sometimes veers towards abstraction and in Pintelon’s decade-long appropriation and interpretations have made her work dissipate into something else than the pure figurative. She is often working on different series simultaneously. Smaller figurative drawings, paintings, collages and larger abstract canvases. Even these abstract paintings are representational of something.
In the series of 2009-10 entitled ‘Monsoon paintings’ she represented the sky, the rain, the ocean, the land as abstract elements with just the echo of small phrases or words added out of her fondness of script.
The works on show from 2013 at the Geoffrey Bawa Foundation celebrating a return of the artist Saskia Pintelon to Lunuganga after her 1991 show are a continuation of those 2009 paintings. They evolved later into the very colourful works entitled ‘Hotpots’ and ‘Sea of Madness’ that were shown in solos shows in Singapore and Europe. The works in this exhibition are monochrome, thinly applied and washed acrylic on untreated canvas. The images are fleeting, floating streaming moments born out of the imagined and the accidental. They are reminiscent of the soothing rippling effect of oceans, rivers and in that sense another part of the chronicling of life and nature in her adoptive island Sri Lanka.
Like in poetry these paintings leave room for the imagination. Linear repetitions, variations and dissonants are translated in a pictoral language. Like in music there are notes, rythms, melodies, stillness. Like water there is fluidity and chrystellisation, there is cohesion and individual drops, rippling and undulating liquid that flows off the canvas as if the support cannot contain the myriad of possibilities beyond. The works have no beginning no end. They need no title, need not to be named. They just are.
Spatial, momentary sectioned impressions born out of the stream of consciousness of the artist, a mastery of technique and an expressive, creative process with spontaneity and a certain rawness. That struggle between the planned and the unforeseen results in illusions, seascapes, mindscapes, visual meditative spaces for thought that balance on the teetering edge of the mystical. The paintings transport the mind drifting from the rippling effect on canvas to a rippling effect in the chaotic synapses of our thought process. Connecting us to our primal, soulful self. They have an inexplicable, mesmerising, magnetic quality much like a fire or an ocean. The monochrome aspect has the quality to give the images the sensation of a memory or allude to dreams. In that realm of possibilities and illusion that Pintelon offers, the viewer is allowed to project and dream, to revel in contemplation, fall into reverie or relax in meditation. The viewer’s mind is allowed to fill in the blanks.