Atul Dodiya paintings are nuanced studies of the middle class Indian milieu. They are topical and as the artist in him evolves, conscious too. No wonder that he is one of the leading artists of modern India. His works have been exhibited all over the world, including Madrid and New York
He was born in 1959 in Mumbai and studied art in the Sir J.J. School of Art. He graduated with a diploma in 1982. Soon after his graduation, Atul Dodiya began exhibiting and selling his work in Mumbai.
Dodiya’s paintings are meant to be a reflection of middle class homes, family life and is in some ways his own biography too. His subtle strokes lovingly create an urban milieu, which encompasses within itself the joys, pains, frustrations and hopes of modern India. His attempts at linking the seemingly disparate experiences of contemporary Indian life give us a better understanding of the world around us today.
Some of his works can also be seen as homage to his artistic peers Hockney and Bhupen Khakhar. He uses the popular collage technique, which Khakhar had made his own.
Dodiya’s 1999 exhibition of exquisite watercolors on Mahatma Gandhi, is seen as a landmark in his career. Not only did this collection earn tremendous critical approbation but it was a great commercial success too. In terms of both subject matter and medium, the series represented a shift for the largely apolitical painter. He says-
“Over the last four years, I have also become more interested in social and political events. When I did the series on Gandhi in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of India’s independence, I remember wondering what exactly we were celebrating. The Gujarat carnage this year gave a much sharper focus to this sense of disquiet and dismay which already preoccupied me. How can any sensitive person not respond to what is happening in Gujarat today? All my life, I have believed that India has a unique culture that enriches all of us and, therefore, communal riots sadden me. Try to put yourself in the place of those who have suffered — the violence, the homelessness, the loss of faith in fellow human beings... can you imagine being afraid of your very neighbor?”
These very concerns are addressed in his later paintings, which narrate a tale of the moral degeneration of a nation.
Atul Dodiya lives and works in Bombay.