Sunday, August 12, 2012

A successful creative partnership

Figures on captivating albeit complex canvases of artist Anju Dodiya are also very expressive, suggesting a diverse range of feelings. When they wear masks, her characters underline ideas of role playing, narrative and intention beyond aesthetic accomplishment.

Her keenness to experiment and challenge the conventional was evident in a superb site-specific installation at the Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodora. In her lavish ‘Throne of Frost’, minimalist charcoal and watercolors contrasted with the usage of richly textured fabric, succinctly capturing the opposing forces of power and destruction, wealth and decay. The palace inspired her images like a woman weighed down by an embellished box and a lonesome king.”

On the other hand, those intrinsic, albeit ignored uniqueness of humdrum shop shutters first inspired Atul Dodiya for his works at Tate Modern’s ‘Century City’ show, more than a decade ago. The painter then worked on laminate board and the roller shutters. Evoking the jostling imagery of Mumbai’s streets, he mixed autobiographical portraits with those of well-known Indian personalities.

The talented and socially sensitive artist’s canvases allude to everything - from the eccentric everyday India to high art elements from all over. They embrace issues ranging from exuberant Indian economy to the garish kitsch and disturbing disquiet of daily life. Indian cataclysms have shaped his work and so the explicitly political concerns without, descending into social realism. The striking imagery has invariably been packed with a stirring swirl of motifs: Bollywood, film stars, political icons, Hindu mythology characters, and so on.

How does the couple jell as artists? Providing the answer, Gayatri Rangachari Shah of The New York Times points out, “Though they are often compared to each other, Mr. Dodiya and Ms. Dodiya also tackle their work differently; she has a focused and linear creative process, whereas the former bundles myriad references in quick bursts of energy.

"They say criticism and feedback from their spouses is vital to their practices. “In the final analysis, we are lucky because artists want to talk, with total understanding, strong support at home — and who better than your spouse as your first trustworthy viewer?” as Atul Dodiya quips.

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