New Delhi: For the first time NGMA presented a solo show by a contemporary artist on such a large scale. Titled, 'Experiments With Truth: Atul Dodiya', the exhibition displays 130 works of the Mumbai based artist which reflects his concerns with the times we live in and the firm belief that despite experiments with different material and mediums, painting will always remain the most challenging art form.
Amongst these is a series of 12 works from 2003 called the Antler Anthology which has Gujarati poetry written on the paintings. Atul, a Saurashtrian living in Mumbai, was extremely hurt and upset by what happened to Gandhi's Gujarat during the riots of 2002. He says he could not talk about what happened, but the paintings were an attempt to reclaim Gujarati as a language of love and hope, not hatred and violence or a reaction to aggressive religiosity.
For Atul Dodiya life and art have always been inseparable. That's why from the time he was a student at the JJ School of Arts in Mumbai in the early 1980s his works are replete with references to cities, cinema, literature, social movements and politics, and people who continue to inspire him.
Their images recur in Atul's paintings, his father, Gandhi, the artist Bhupen Khakkar, the poet Suresh Joshi. For him, the act of rendering homage to his masters is also an integral part of his practice, from Ravi Verma to Benode Behari Mukherjee. Which is why NGMA brought the original works of these artists from their collection. Nandlal Bose's Shabbari trilogy hangs next to Atul's work which reflects on it and responds to it. But Atul believes it is his engagement with the viewer that truly sustains and nurtures his art.