Coinciding with the India Art Fair, Anju Dodiyaa��s Imagined Immortals takes a playful look at life and loss
Death is an inevitability that needna��t cause despair. Anju Dodiya, one of Indiaa��s foremost contemporary artists, addressed the illnesses she saw in her family and the terror she read about, with her new collection of paintings that uses an unusual medium: medical illustrations from the 18th century. a�?Back then, these illustrations were about remarkable discoveries. But I look at them as objects of beauty because when you think about death, and cancel out fear, there is a certain beauty to the fact that in spite of our vulnerability, we have amazing dreams and desires,a�? begins Mumbai-based Dodiya, explaining how she decided to cut out prints of the illustrations and use them as a collage base. Juxtaposed with animals, flowers and instruments of tradea��like her brushesa��they are also fun a�?as, I think, it helps us cope with the drama of death, making it a little absurd,a�? she says.
Titled Imagined Immortals, the collection, currently on exhibit at Delhia��s Vadehra Art Gallery, comprises of collages and larger, more sombre watercolour and charcoal paintings. The 50-year-old admits she has incorporated different elements. a�?Visually, they are sharp and play with black a lot. Ia��ve used a pearl element that refers to 19th century nature morte Dutch paintings, the Japanese ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) technique, which incorporates violence and elegance in a way that moves me, and even Chinese plates with their nature motifs like peach blossoms (the title of one her paintings) that are metaphors for long life,a�? says the two-time Sothebya��s Prize-nominated artist.
Speaking about the ongoing Kochi Biennale and the India Art Fair in Delhi, Dodiya, who participated in the 2009 Venice Biennale, says the art scene is blooming now. a�?There is still an absense of museums and infrastructure, but we are on our waya��there is an excitement about art now. When I visited the first edition of the Kochi Biennale, I saw local visitors coming in hordes. So if it keeps happening, every two years they will be exposed to the latest in contemporary arta��educating them and making space for art in their lives,a�? she smiles.
Vadehra Art Gallery, till February 14. Details: vadehraart.com
a��Surya Praphulla Kumar