Walking with the Waves showcases 135 selected works from artist Atul Dodiya's series
This dual exhibition hosted by a city-based gallery features works that arise from a space of unimagined crisis and the subsequent process of healing
In times of uncertainty, art is often used as a medium to allow creative minds an opportunity to react and retaliate to the changes they are subject to. Artist Atul Dodiya (63) from Mumbai has done something similar by responding to the multi-waves of the pandemic at his recent showcase that features a body of work titled ‘Walking with the Waves’—a set of 366 Dodiya’s paintings. The exhibition, which showcases 135 selected works from the artist’s series, was inaugurated at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Saket, on Tuesday. Along with Dodiya's work, the museum—it opened to the public after a year-long, pandemic-induced hiatus—has unveiled another exhibition titled 'Into the Moonlight Parade…’ that features selected works by the late Tamil artist K Ramanujam.
While both the works are different and must be viewed separately, a common thread that connects them is the idea of hope and resilience. Addressing the same, curator Roobina Karode shared, “Complimentary they may be but I would urge people to not compare the two [exhibitions]. Ramanujam was gone in 1973; he had a mental health problem. Atul is talking about solitude as experienced during the pandemic. So, I am trying to bring these two artists together because I think the need of the hour is empathy, compassion, and love for all living beings.”
Delving into the pandemic
Dodiya uses the medium of watercolour on paper to channelise his thoughts, emotions, and influences as experienced during the pandemic into this body of work. The works, Dodiya shares, have been painted “instinctively with limited planning”. “I am not afraid of trying anything. A simple landscape may look old fashioned or from the bygone era but that’s okay. One has to look into what comes from within,” the artist explained.
Through ‘Walking with the Waves’, Dodiya addresses the anxieties and the sense of isolation we experienced during the last two years. “During the first wave, the migrants were leaving to reach their native place and suffered a lot. In the second wave, bodies were thrown into the Ganges…there was no space to bury the dead bodies. These instances also inspired me to paint,” the artist added, while talking about one of his paintings that depict a man digging his own grave. One will find subtle influences from the Bengal School of Art and Indian Miniature Art in his work. In a few paintings, Dodiya engages with mythology, depicting the life of Krishna and certain incidents from the sacred text Bhagavata Purana. “I am sure I was a Bengali in my past life,” he added with a laugh.
Water as an entity and allied elements such as boats, fisherman, as well as octopi are recurring motifs in his work. The title ‘Walking with the Waves’, thus, encompasses both the symbolic and literal idea of ‘waves’.
Homage to a learned artist
‘Into the Moonlight Parade…’ offers the audience an insight into the rare and lesser-known works of K Ramanujam—he had schizophrenia and passed away at the young age of 33—while paying a tribute to an exceptional artistic personality who had a profound impact on modernism in India. The exhibition features a series of works in a variety of mediums such as ink and gouache on paper. What caught our attention was a dark and ominous painting that is assumed to be Ramanujam’s last artwork created before his death. Depicting dark splotches of black ink and tangled lines, this piece brings about a haunting melancholia. “K Ramanujam’s intimate, dreamy, and distant world makes us think about the extraordinary lengths in which the human mind perseveres and retains stability,” concluded Karode.
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WHAT: ‘K Ramanujam: Into the Moonlight Parade…’ and ‘Atul Dodiya: Walking with the Waves’
WHEN: Till June 30
WHERE: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Saket