Into the labyrinth of the mind

Dubai-based artist Nissa Riyas focuses on dreams, dilemmas and catharsis of the human mind in her paintings

Published: 11th July 2014 09:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th July 2014 09:02 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI: When one walks into the Durbar Hall Art Gallery, we see a street scene on a rainy day in Istanbul, Turkey. “This painting is my pride and joy, “ says the artist Nissa Riyas. The painting is part of a solo exhibition titled ‘Psychometry’.

Psychometry is a branch of psychology that attempts to measure the human consciousness. This is exactly what Nissa has captured on the canvas. The exhibition features series like  ‘Dream’, ‘Catharsis’, ‘Relative’ and ‘Dilemma’.

‘Dilemma’ shows the three stages of the human mind in, like the title suggests, a dilemma. The first painting is a beautiful confusion of colours. Blue, white and black form the base, with dashes of red, that sets off the conflict.

“The mind is first in a turmoil, hence the increased use of red in the first picture. Then we reflect and eventually we reach a sense of calm. This is why white is predominant in the last picture,” says Nissa. “I use blue as it is synonymous with positivity and tranquility.”

This is not the Dubai-based artist’s first show. Her recent show in Kozhikode received much praise from critics. She paints with oil, acrylic and water colours as well as charcoal.  She had also participated in a group exhibition at the Dubai International Art Centre, with all the proceeds going for the Bosnia and Herzegovina flood victims.

Along with ‘Psychometry’, there are a few pieces from ‘My East and West’. This is a series of landscapes from Riyas’s travels around the world. They include ‘Snowing Pink’, a view of cherry blossoms in Vienna; a street scene in Istanbul and various other landscapes.

“’Istanbul’ has an interesting story behind it,” says Nissa. “The painting is based on a photo I took of a busy street in Istanbul. However, it was hot that day and I wondered what the same scene would look like in the monsoon.”

The painting is much sought after, but Nissa refuses to part with it. “It has a special place in my heart as it took a lot of imagination and creativity,” she says.

 ‘Catharsis’ is a three-set series that shows intense emotions. While the first two show explosions of rage and sadness the last one shows an indifference, with a quietness and calm that is similar to when the mind is cleansed of all feelings.

Influenced by the Buddhist philosophy of mental fettering, she beautifully portrays attachment and constriction in her painting ‘Fettered’.

Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Michelangelo are Nissa’s influences. A self-taught artist, she follows their styles and implies them in her works. “Although, I don’t do many still- life paintings, Michelangelo’s works are my go-to for inspiration,” she says.

Nissa has done several shows in Dubai and her paintings have been selected for shows in Austria.

As for future plans, she hopes to pursue a Masters in Fine Arts in London. “Juggling painting and home life is hectic,” says the mother of three. “But my family is supportive of my passion and that is my greatest inspiration.”

‘Psychometry’ will be on at the Durbar Hall Art Gallery till July 13.

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