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Conversation with artist Atul Dodiya : September 22, 2006
 
Atul Dodiya

Atul Dodiya was born on 20th January (1959), in Mumbai. He completed his BFA (Diploma) from the J.J. School of Art (1982) and was at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris between 1991 and '92.

He has exhibited at 'Reflections and Images' Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi and Mumbai, 1993 and 'Trends and Images' CIMA, Calcutta, 1993. He has had several solo exhibitions including one at Fine Art Resource, (Berlin), the Japan Foundation, Tokyo, (2001). He has also participated in numerous group shows including, Yokohama Triennale, in 2002, Capital and Karma: Recent Positions in Art, (Kunsthalle Vienna) in 2002, and at the House of World Cultures, Berlin in 2003. He has exhibited at Gallery Apunto, Amsterdam in 1993. He has participated in 'The Richness of the Spirit' Kuwait and Rome in 1986-89, 'India - Contemporary Art' World Trade Center, Amsterdam 1989, 'Exposition Collective' Cite Intemationale Des Arts, Paris 1992 and at the Espacio Uno, Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid (2002), amongst others. The crowning glory was his works being shown at the Tate Museum, London, in 2000, as part of the exhibition 'Centuries Cities: Art and Culture in Modern Metropolis'. He is one of the Indian artists whose work was shown at the museum as part of a major exhibition on nine cities of the world.

Atul came into prominence in 1999 with his series on Mahatma Gandhi, where the painter sought to reconstruct images from a forgotten biography of the leader. His watercolors and sensitive brush strokes on the canvass gave Gandhi a new lease of life. A rich burnt sienna affirmed the strength and spirit of Gandhi beneath the frail 'minimalist' body. Luminous yellow-whites merged into deep ambers. Says Atul, "There was a strong sense of aesthetics running through Gandhi's life --- whether it is khadi, (homespun fabric) his choice of dress, the architecture of the Sabarmati ashram, fasting, non-cooperation or the charkha (the wheel used for spinning the yarn). He had a fine artistic way of doing things."

His images do the story telling as he goes along. Reality affects his sensibilities to a great extent, and thus his art. Confesses Atul, "It is impossible to close your eyes to the world around you, however much you try. The blasts in March 1993 affected me a lot. They shattered my sense of wholeness and peace. They made me realize that certain truths have to be faced. They are reflected in my paintings in the form of peeling plasters and cracks." The turning point in Dodiya's work came into being with his trip to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. "I saw paintings from the early Renaissance onward to modern times. I was overwhelmed by the thickness of the centuries old paint, and wondered how my work could begin to measure up to the masters. I learnt to see things differently, not merely to create within a context, but to create a context." For almost three years after he returned, he began questioning the relevance of his work. When Atul came back, his work had changed. He dropped the earlier photo realistic approach to replace it with a more flexible mode. The result was the 1994 'The Bombay Buccaneer', an oil, acrylic and wood on canvas effort, a take off on the poster for the film 'Baazigar.''
  
His other series that got him international acclaim was the Bombay: labyrinth/laboratory show at the Japan Foundation Asia Center in Tokyo. It included a selection of the artist's paintings on store shutters, and other works created with ready-made objects that reflect his concern with Indian middle-class aspirations and the impact of globalization on traditions.
  
He was awarded the French Government Scholarship for the year 1991-92, following which in 1995 he was given the Sanskriti Award and the Sotheby's Award in 1999. In the same year he was also granted Italy's Civitella Ranieri Foundation fellowship. He was given the Sanskriti Award, New Delhi in 1995

Atul Dodiya lives and works in Mumbai.

 
 
 
    

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