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Bringing realism and sensitivity to art in postcolonial India: Atul Dodiya


Atul Dodiya | Via Wikipedia

Known as “one of India’s most acclaimed postcolonial artists” and a “leader of the younger generation of artists”, Atul Dodiya is one of the most sought-after contemporary Indian artists today. Married to fellow painter Anju Dodiya, he and lives and works in Mumbai — the city he was born in, after his family migrated there from Kathiawar in Gujarat.

Dodiya was born in Ghatkopar on January 20, 1959, and turns 64 years old this year.

“The city’s (Mumbai’s) incredible diversity has been a major influence on me,” Dodiya is known to have admitted. And indeed, his “hyperrealist depictions of middle-class Indian life” from this roiling centrepoint of humanity are an incredible treat for any art aficionado.

His body of work, it has been reported, “defies neat categorization”. That is to say, it ranges “from paintings and works on paper to street art and sculptures, encompassing numerous different styles and seamlessly intertwining Western art history with the history, myths, folklore, and popular culture of India”.

Dodiya completed his Bachelor in Fine Arts from the Sir J. J. School of Arts in 1982 (incidentally where he met his artist wife as a student, when he went on to teach there later).

Via atul-dodiya.com

The year 1991-1992 was a turning point for Dodiya when he went to Paris on a French Government scholarship to attend at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, going on to encounter original works by Picasso, Modigliani and others, profoundly influencing his own figurative renderings.

By the mid-1990s, emerging as “a front-runner of his generation of post-colonial Indian artists”, Dodiya was notably deeply impacted by the communal cataclysms that spanned the decade from 1992-2002 in India — they came to inform his art strongly.

In 1999, he was noticed with his series on Mahatma Gandhi, reconstructing images from a forgotten biography of the leader.

Dodiya is known to have presented exquisitely sensitive watercolors as well as bold realism amid pop art iconography — his is known as “a flamboyantly hybrid idiom”. He has had several solo shows in India and outside, in Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo, London, at the Venice Biennale, and more.

Untitled – III (German Girlfriend), by Atul Dodiya. Courtesy: Atul Dodiya and Vadehra Art Gallery | Via Scroll