Over the years, the artist Atul Dodiya has effortlessly adopted a narrative style of presentation to explore the social milieu in which he lives with subtle humor and even satirical tendencies. In his paintings and assemblages, Dodiya deals with both political and art history, while combining global / public memory and local / personal experiences.
The upcoming solo exhibition "Stammer in the shade" at the Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi consists of two parts – paintings in his fragmented abstract style and his shutter series. Known for the merging of visual images on the metallic surface of shutter doors that were attached to the shop fronts in Delhi, his earliest shutter work was commissioned by the Tate Modern for the Century City exhibition in 2000. It happened in Mumbai in the 1990s Riots across the city.
In 2007 he reflected on his work in an interview with this writer. "Creativity used to mean that I was a link in a long chain of artists from antiquity to postmodernism," said Dodiya. “The tendencies and the obsessions have moved. The earth has moved almost dramatically under my feet. When my ideas of security and beauty changed, a flood of images hit me.
Life in a nation infiltrated by poverty may be inevitable. Death, decay, corruption, compromise, struggle are not distant metaphors for the fall of man. These are real here, lived with me … "
By 2020, Dodiya's new series of works will increasingly focus on the active participation of the viewer in his work. It gives the viewer the impetus to explore deeper interpretations. "The act of looking at a work of art is complex," says Dodiya, giving us an insight into his work.
Atul Dodiya's "Rising" from his "Shutter Series"
Talk about the title "Stammer im Schatten" … this was a 2005 work. Do you go back to the series you made in the past?
That's right. In 2005 I did a series of works entitled "Stammer in the Shade" that were part of the framework event of the Venice Biennale.
I am using the title "Stammer in the Shade" for this current show because I like the title, it is poetic and has a strange connection to the 2005 series.
In this series, a painting was hidden behind a large canvas on crutches. The detail of the painting, i. H. The title, etc., was on the front and the actual painting was in the shadow of a larger canvas. Now there are masterpieces in this series (by Picasso, Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustave Courbet, etc.) in the form of photographs placed on the small shutters.
A small part of these great paintings can be seen in the photographs, mostly the lower part of the paintings. The main motif, however, is the frame, which can be seen sensitively in the center of the picture. The shadow of these heavy frames was my main theme.
I've learned so much from these great artists and their art that everything I try and do is just a stutter. This is the statement I want to make on this show.
This suite is a combination of delicate still life and landscapes with the human figure in a minimalist mode. There is a passion for art and the grammar of painting. Would you like to expand the compositional control and visual language in your work?
There are landscapes, there are abstract forms, also saints / monks and some mythological figures. The great art of the past gives me a feeling of freedom and the feeling of being able to do different things at the same time. This has been my approach throughout my career.
How do you invite the viewer to actively participate in the interpretation of your art?
The viewer sees only what he wants to see, not everything that is seen. The way in which my freedom is important to me gives my viewer complete freedom of interpretation, perception and also arguing. There is no control over another person / viewer.
The shutter series is another look back in time. They seem to have given them a new avatar with the framed photo added almost like a mantelpiece in the scenography scheme above.
To me, these shutters are like small shrines. They can be many things in many ways. They can vary depending on the function in daily operation, during a curfew they drop suddenly and violently. Many incidents and events arise along with history and memory.
In terms of fragments, you seem to have a Braqian echo in the way you fragment your details to create movement in space. It is almost as if you had returned to European masters during the Cubist journeys.
Right, as I said, I may. As an artist, I can travel back in time. I think there is no past, present and future for an artist. It's more like a river, just a river and one is part of it. I can go back in time, the past can come in the future or the present. Everything merges and creates a new experience.
(The exhibition opens on January 28th at the Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi.)