Saturday, June 22, 2013

An artist driven by history, culture and contemporary sensibilities

Celebrated artist Atul Dodiya has created a niche for himself not just in India but internationally. The history and culture of his home country plays a significant role in constructing the barrage of images that inform his oeuvre. Launching his career with a rather straightforward and cleverly deadpan realist approach, he switched to the fragmented and multi-layered approach from the literal one in the mid-90s.

Conscious of history, his rich oeuvre reflects his deep knowledge about immediate surroundings, current events and ancient religious traditions. He often quotes from the recesses of Indian as well as Western art traditions. Even his potent pictorial language can be attributed to his to adoption and usage of the vocabulary of Western contemporary art. Driven by intellect, intensity and ideas, he continues to experiment with many forms.

According to him, ‘I’ve always tried to retain that student phase in Sir J.J. School of Art when seeing a new form or new medium greatly excited us about its possibilities.’ Even as he strives to bring contemporary Indian art into a closer, deeper embrace with Western Post-Modernist art, Atul Dodiya also looks to the former closer to its fundamental roots, through re-adjustment, and reproaches to mythological and cultural figure. Some of his recent shutter paintings at Art Basel 2010 courtesy Chemould Prescott Road respond to iconic paintings from the 1970s by late Bhupen Khakhar, called ‘trade series’, depicting middle-class figures from a wide range of professions.

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.

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