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Atul Dodiya

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1959, Mumbai
Lives and works in Mumbai

Atul Dodiya is a painter who innovates with a variety of materials and mediums. He uses unusual surfaces like metal roller shutters and incorporates a circuit of references like cinema, literature, mythology and the city of Mumbai in his artworks.



Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris


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



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He paints on a variety of surfaces using a variety of materials

Using acrylics on canvas and attaching drainage pipes to them in Cracks in Mondrian, 2005, to painting on laminates in Saptapadi: Scenes from a Marriage (Regardless), 2007, Atul Dodiya has showcased a range of mediums he is proficient with. In “Malevich Matters & Other Shutters”, 2010, Dodiya transformed his earlier shutter installations from 2000-01 into flat paintings.
He has an extraordinary ability to transform the three-dimensional objects into two-dimensional surfaces, and though he experiments with assemblages, vitrine-like installations, his approach is fundamentally painterly. He often incorporates found objects like shirt, synthetic hair, and popular iconographic representations of political visionaries, stenographic advertisements, calendar art, street signs, and photographs from his archival memory into his works.

Atul Dodiya, Devi and the Sink, 2004-06, enamel paint, synthetic varnish and acrylic epoxy on laminate, 72 x 48”. From Saptapadi: Scenes from Marriage (Regardless).

Atul Dodiya, Cracks in Mondrian- Kashmir, 2004-2005, acrylic with marble dust on canvas, hinged on PVC drainage pipes, 93 x 72”, pipe size variable.

Atul Dodiya, Die Hard Auto Batteries, 2008-09, oil and acrylic on canvas, 84 x 54”. From the exhibition “Malevich Matters & Other Shutters”, 2010.

He is ingeniously mindful of world and Indian history of art

He is greatly influenced by filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa and artists like Bhupen Khakhar, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Edward Hopper, and Mondrian who he occasionally pays homage to in his works. In Bombay Buccaneer, 1994, Atul Dodiya poses as James Bond with Bhupen Khakhar and David Hockney reflected in the shades he wears. In “Shri Shri Khakhar Prasanna”, 2007, Dodiya pays homage to Bhupen Khakar, a close friend who he considers a big influence on his work. “From him I understood how to use elements and details from daily life that were conventionally never used in painting,”he remarks.“I also admired Khakhar’s boldness and his humour.I learnt that painting did not always have to be serious —it could also be witty and irreverent,”says Dodiya

Atul Dodiya, The Bombay Bucaneer, 1994, oil, acrylic and wood on canvas

Assemblage of ideas and references from the world of cinema, literature and mythology

Atul Dodiya’s art has its root in other arts .He includes poetry, text and literary reference in his works to form an intriguing text to image relationship. For “Bako Exists. Imagine”, 2004, Dodiya illustrated 20 episodes from the avant-garde Gujarati writer Labhshanker Thaker.
As the artist has said, “As a young boy, I enjoyed history as a subject. I also loved mimicry . Even now, I get quite mesmerised when I see Johny Lever imitating Dilip Kumar, Raj Kumar or Amitabh Bachchan. I started enjoying cinema, painting and poetry all at the same time.”
In Saptapadi: Scenes from marriages, 2004-06, Dodiya renders a hyper-realistic portrait of Charu, Satyajit Ray’s eponymous heroine from his 1964 film Charulata along with the celebration of Binduin Bindu (after Raza), 2006, the quintessential Bollywood vamp shown in different attitudes inscribed in a circular snippet form punning on her name while at the same time referencing Raza’s famous rendition of concentric circles of energy.

Atul Dodiya, If it rains fire, 2010, oxidised mild steel, mirror, fibreglass and watercolour, charcoal, marble dust on paper, gallow size: 102x 42”, painting size: 60 x 45”, overall size: variable.

Atul Dodiya, No Studies, No Keeping Count, 2011. From the exhibition “Bako exist.Imagine”.

Atul Dodiya, Charu, 2004-06, enamel paint and synthetic varnish on laminate, 72 x 48”.

Atul Dodiya, Bindu (after Raza), 2006, enamel paint, synthetic varnish and acrylic epoxy on laminate, 72 x 48”.

Gandhi is a recurrent figure in his works

Atul Dodiya is deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and tries to re-contextualise his teachings through his paintings. “He was an intimate part of my boyhood. I used to draw him quite often so one could say Gandhi is a recurring theme for me!” says Atul Dodiya.In 1999, he produced a series of watercolours on Gandhi called An Artist of Nonviolence. He juxtaposes the figure of Gandhi as an artist of non-violent protest with that of the conceptual artist Joseph Beuys to provoke a debate between their ways of registering dissent. In “Bako Exists. Imagine”, 2004, Gandhi is less of a political figure and more a benevolent grandfather.

Atul Dodiya, Butter Stains, 2011, mixed media on canvas, 78 x 78”. From the exhibition “Bako exist.Imagine”, 2011.

Atul Dodiya, Bapu at Rene Block Gallery, New York, 1974, 1998, watercolour on paper, 70 x 45”.

Semi-autobiographical nature of his works

Atul Dodiya’s vitrine-like installation Broken Branches, 2003, is an autobiographical work containing found objects, morphed portraits of iconic personalities, self-referential sculptural works as well as references of artists, poets, filmmakers and thinkers who have had an influence on Dodiya. In O Nayna, 1994, he paints a picture of a vacant hospital couch on which is placed jagged and slashing instruments, as a funeral song to his sister who endured a prolonged sickness. In yet another work, he paints his father’s portrait on a canvas juxtaposed with the text of the letter written by his father with the artist’s shadow looming large over it.

Atul Dodiya, Broken Branches, 2003, hand-coloured framed photographs, used artificial limbs, tools, found objects, billboard paintings, installed dimensions variable.

Atul Dodiya, Letter from a father, 1994, oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48”.

Atul Dodiya, O Nayna, 1994, oil and acrylic on canvas, 48 x 72”.