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Anju Dodiya

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1964, Mumbai, India
Lives and works in Mumbai

Anju Dodiya’s primary subject is the self. Largely engaged with the medium of painting, she uses a variety of materials for her canvas, including mattresses and fabrics. Her use of the collage format to create her work via human expressions, involves juxtaposition of dramatic elements of nature.



Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), Sir J.J School of Arts, Mumbai



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Her works are highly reflective of the artist's own self

Her work contains a huge text of the self. The self here is the artist, her internal conflicts that have a strong resonance on the canvas. Her work is confrontational, almost private accounts of self-exploration. One can observe a strong connotation of the feminine, which features consistently in all her works.
In Sub Rosa she portrays a consciousness of the physicality of the surfaces and their contents through diverse images and materials. The image consists of two images of labyrinths, a self-portrait sticking out its golden tongue, and several found images of pointing fingers on the left panel add to the ideas of privacy, confession and guilt that Dodiya conjures through the title.

Anju Dodiya, Sub Rosa (Diptych), 2007, mixed media on handmade paper and screen print on fabric, 71.5 x 92 in | 181.6 x 233.7 cm

Depiction of the unconscious reflections of a psychological conflict

Her works reflect a deep engagement with internal conflict. It is a constant play with the unconscious mind and its dilemmas. The inability to comprehend unsettling violence, injustice and disparity is constantly portrayed in her art.
For instance, in Circus of Insomnia, the artist uses the aspect of a three-dimensional representation with various textures on a mattress. She uses black and white stripes to create an interlinking web for the freedom to dream against the restrained state of insomnia, reflecting on her style of depicting the psychologically tensed interior conflicts.

Anju Dodiya, CIRCUS OF INSOMNIA, 2004, acrylic and ink on velvet mattress, 84 x 46 x 5 in

Contrasting colour and line patterns highlight luminosity and empty spaces on her canvas

Anju’s works largely draw from Japanese wood block prints that are characterised by line prints and floating imagery. There is a very strong reflection of the same in her works. Portrait of Zindi and The Veil are two such works that marks large spaces of emptiness fusing with dark bold lines. She re-imagines the canvas, by restricting the colour palette to two colours, one contrasting the other, playing with the lack of colours and providing full attention to the luminosity created by the two. 

Anju Dodiya, Portrait of Zindi, 2007, watercolour, charcoal & soft pastels on paper, 70 X 45 in (177.8 X 114.3 cm) 

Anju Dodiya, The Veil, 2007, charcoal drawing with screen print on fabric and cast STPI paper

She engages essentially with human expressions

One of the keys of her work derives from human expressions. Anju Dodiya hoards faces, particularly those in states of extreme emotion. A box of clippings in her bookshelf includes news photographs of mourners, bombing victims, etc.
Coronation- II is a daunting self-portrait of the artist wearing a loosely wrapped turban and high-collared dress. Above her head, a large crown floats like a halo, hinting at themes of captivity and sovereignty, obligation and independence.  Thus, she draws out the violent, conflicted imagery to portray a scale of such violence through objects, and sometimes even individual faces.

Anju Dodiya, Coronation- II, 2004, acrylic on velvet mattress.

Anju Dodiya embodies a performative structure to carry out the theatrical in her art

Pictorial representations of the objects embody an essential means to portray the theatrical arrangement in her works.
Dodiya’s work displays attention to theatrical detail – how furniture becomes props and devices to enhance a scene, and how bodies can be arranged as provocatively as inanimate objects. She calls her art “a private, emotional theatre”.
In Knotted, the criss-cross knots exhibit the lines of hurt and restrain on the canvas, which similarly in another work, Paper Storm, the pictorial representation of paper exhibit the violence and speed on the canvas.

Anju Dodiya, Paper Storm, 2010, watercolour, charcoal and soft pastel on paper.

Anju Dodiya, Knotted, watercolour and charcoal on paper.