Cognition in art

Published January 25, 2024
Some of the artworks displayed at the exhibition. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Some of the artworks displayed at the exhibition. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Cognitive abilities are to do with leaning things through experience or the thought process. They directly relate to the mind, to applying one’s mental strength to gain knowledge. Art, on the other hand, is all about creativity that emanates from those very recesses of the heart which are driven by feelings and emotions. Of course, artists need to acquire training to know the grammar of the visual language which they use as their medium of expression. But mostly, intuition, feeling and imagination define an artist’s output.

Curated by Humayun Memon, Faizan Riedinger’s latest exhibition, which concluded on Wednesday at the Koel Art Gallery, is called Cognitive Constructs. On surface, it sounds like an idea dictated by the mind. Well, it is not. The heart is at play here, albeit in such a way that it doesn’t undervalue the mind.

Faizan says, “I find fascination in the concept of compartmentalisation — a psychological phenomenon that shapes our understanding of self, memory, and emotion. My artistic exploration delves into the intricate bond between the conscious and unconscious, unravelling the layers that construct our inner worlds.”

So, the emphasis here is on the inner world. Exploring its depth requires a ‘psychological phenomenon’ that gives a form to how we comprehend ourselves. The self cannot be gauged only by virtue of cognition. After all, it is always the combination of body and soul that gives each individual a certain aura. This is the point where the show assumes an interesting position.

Faizan makes intricate patterns and geometrical shapes — in certain cases patterns in geometrical shapes — with dreamy, textural grace. A case in point is the eye-catching ‘Transition Stage’ series (ink, acrylic, pinewood on canvas). What one’s trying to suggest is that Faizan imparts an oneiric look to the whole exercise. By doing this he apparently moves away from reality, hence from cognition, but the viewers gets absorbed in his images in such a way that they appear as something experiential for them. For example: the ‘Inner Light’ series. It indicates both the mutual exclusivity and reinforcement of heart and mind, of constructs and feelings, of imagined realities and real illusions.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2024

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