Our everyday lives are bombarded by images and in a majority of cases what we see is not really the end of the story, it is what we perceive of the seen object that really tells us the story. People who suffer from a form of visual agnosia (called propagnosia – a condition associated with deficits in the right temporal lobe damage manifesting an inability to consciously recognize faces) suffer a remarkable problem in not being able to cognitively distil the details that they ‘see’ in every day life and hence perceive even the most mundane items to be things completely different. Famous among this is the case of Dr. P from Oliver Sachs’s book “The Man who mistook his wife for a Hat and other clinical tales” who actually mistook his wife for a hat and proceeded to wear ‘her’ and even mistook the author of the book for a grandfather clock. The man clearly perceived the world to be something completely different from what the rest of us saw and experienced as reality. Cases of perception being different from reality are also seen in religious symbols. I remember being in India at the time when stone idols of a Hindu god was purportedly drinking milk offered by devotees. I also remember reading the news where enterprising people saw images of their holy representatives on grilled cheese sandwiches. I also know that the same grilled cheese sandwich has been bought on e-bay for thousands of dollars. In fact Wikipedia has an interesting collection of such religious simulacra here. Reading reports of grilled cheese sandwiches and the like prompted me to create the following painting as a commentary on this phenomenon.
“Mugshots on grilled cheese sandwiches – new trends in religiosity” : Oil on canvas (3ft X 4ft)
How often do you use symbolism in your art? How do you manifest your art with a deeper agenda than what is outwardly seen and how often do people actually understand the symbology employed? How often do you have to explain your symbols with a descriptive title rather than the art ‘speak for itself’’?