Atul Dodiya: Shades of Memoirist

By Rosalyn D'Mello | Open Magazine

HAVING ENTERED VADEHRA Art Gallery to view Atul Dodiya’s ongoing exhibition, one infers, through Ranjit Hoskote’s wall text, that we are being offered a set of shrines. The show’s title—Stammer in the Shade—is elusively cryptic. Dodiya, whom I meet later, informs me of its reference to the shadow region that occupies the underside of paintings by artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Edward Hopper. He has been obsessed with what Hoskote refers to as the ‘penumbral strata’, and his archive consists of over 500 photographs that chronicle his encounters with it during his visits to European and American museums. It’s a fixation that has run parallel to his profound love of ‘The Masters’, from pre-Renaissance until the 20th Century. This passion has repeatedly manifested itself in his work since the inception of his artistic practice. He is even credited as being one of the first contemporary Indian artists to syncretise Indian and Western painting traditions. “I was interested in that shadow part,” he tells me, speaking specifically about the ‘soothing grey tone’ that results from the manner in which the light shines on these ‘masterpieces’.

7 February 2020