Cognition and transcendence

Published October 14, 2014
Alter Ego 1. Photos: White Star
Alter Ego 1. Photos: White Star

KARACHI: Cognition has to do with reason and knowledge. So when an artist uses this word it sounds a bit strange, because art is generally thought to be an exploration of the unconscious. This might be the reason that Sana Kazi has added the word transcendence to cognition to highlight the theme of her artworks on display at the Koel Art Gallery.

Alter Ego II. Photos: White Star
Alter Ego II. Photos: White Star

But don’t be confused. The viewer immediately gets the hang of Kazi’s creative drift with the two 4ftX8ft gouache on ash-covered wasli pieces called ‘Alter Ego 1’ and ‘Alter Ego II’. Ash is the key component here — the greyness of being and nothingness. The artist is pushing the physical boundaries to chance upon a spiritual domain. I say chance upon because there’s no certainty whether she will get there. Hence, imagination is at work here, and the tool that it is working with is ‘images’. Alter ego itself suggests a binary existence, if not duality. This binary does not have to be a conflict between two opposite forces. Therefore the images in the paintings are looking in the same direction.

In Transit II. Photos: White Star
In Transit II. Photos: White Star

The ‘Sleeper Series’ (mixed media on ash-covered paper, 100 portraits) places the physical in the foreground and pushes the spiritual in the background but in a manner that doesn’t negate the importance of either. The faces and the sleeping posture can be understood, if you wish to understand them, by reminding yourself of the famous Shakespearean lines: “The sleeping and the dead are but as pictures. ‘Tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil.”

The ‘In Transit’ series (graphite and ash-covered on wasli) completes the quest with the concept of diffusion, of transcending your physical self, thereby suggesting the transient nature of a corporal existence. The show, Cognitive Transcendence, will remain open till Oct 20.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2014

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