Born 1959, Mumbai, India
Lives and works in Mumbai.
Very early at the age of eleven, it was very clear that I wanted to be a painter. But I’m an artist – not because I draw well – but because I want to share something. Everything interests me: from pre-Renaissance to the postmodern age; high classical art and kitsch, French new wave and Bollywood, Chinese calligraphy and Mexican totem.. And all the things I see, I eat – basically because I enjoy that. So I feel strongly about many things at the same time. That is why I create very different kinds of works; I never follow a single route or a single path when looking at life and art. Atul Dodiya
Atul Dodiya came to prominence in 1999 with a series of works about Mahatma Gandhi, in which he sought to reconstruct images from a forgotten biography. He says: “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 1993 Bombay bombings were a series of thirteen bomb explosions that took place in Mumbai. Criminally instigated, the coordinated attacks were the most destructive explosions in Indian history). Another turning point in Atul Dodiya’s work came with a 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 from Paris, Dodiya questioned the relevance of his work. He dropped his earlier photo realistic approach to replace it with a more flexible style. The result was the 1994 painting ‘The Bombay Buccaneer’, in oil, acrylic and wood on canvas, a take off of a poster for the Indian film ‘Baazigar.’’ (A 1993 thriller about a young man who stops at nothing to get revenge. Apart from some exceptions, it is a scene by scene remake of the Hollywood thriller A Kiss Before Dying. The film shocked its Indian audience with an unexpected violation of the standard Bollywood formula). Another series of works, a selection of the artist’s paintings on store shutters, and other ready-made objects reflect Atul Dodiya’s concern with Indian middle-class aspirations and the impact of globalization on traditions. Dodiya’s work provides a rich vocabulary of stylistic and iconographic references from both Indian and Western art, alongside imagery and ideas rooted in film, history, popular culture, and literature. He is renowned for his use mastery of a range of styles that incorporate frequent improvisation and reinvention.