Express press service
In times of uncertainty, art is often used as a medium to allow creative minds to react and fight back to the changes they are subjected to. Artist Atul Dodiya (63) from Mumbai did something similar in responding to the multiple waves of the pandemic during his recent showcase which features a body of work titled ‘Walking with the Waves’ – a set of 366 paintings by Dodiya. The exhibition, which features 135 selected works from the artist’s series, opened on Tuesday at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Saket. Alongside Dodiya’s work, the museum – it opened to the public after a year-long hiatus caused by the pandemic – unveiled another exhibition titled “Into the Moonlight Parade…” which features selected works by the late Tamil artist K Ramanujam.
Although the two works are different and should be seen separately, a common thread that connects them is the idea of hope and resilience. Addressing the same, curator Roobina Karode shared, “They may be free, but I urge people not to compare the two [exhibitions]. Ramanujam had left in 1973; he had a mental health problem. Atul talks about loneliness as it has been experienced during the pandemic. So I’m trying to bring these two artists together because I think the need of the hour is empathy, compassion and love for all living beings.
Diving into the pandemic
Dodiya uses the medium of watercolor on paper to channel her thoughts, emotions and influences as experienced during the pandemic in this body of work. The works, Dodiya shares, were painted “instinctively with limited planning.” “I’m not afraid to try anything. A simple landscape may seem old-fashioned or from a bygone era, but that’s okay. You have to look at what comes from within,” explains the artist.
Through ‘Walking with the Waves’, Dodiya addresses the anxieties and sense of isolation we have experienced over the past two years. “During the first wave, the migrants left to return to their place of origin and suffered a lot. In the second wave, bodies were thrown into the Ganges…there was no space to bury the corpses. These examples also inspired me to paint,” added the artist, while talking about one of his paintings which depicts a man digging his own grave. One will find subtle influences from the art school of Bengal and Indian miniature art in his work. In a few paintings, Dodiya engages in mythology, depicting the life of Krishna and certain incidents from the holy text Bhagavata Purana. “I’m sure I was Bengali in my past life,” he added with a laugh.
Water as an entity and allied elements such as boats, fishermen, as well as octopuses are recurring motifs in his work. The title “Walking with the Waves” therefore encompasses both the symbolic and literal idea of “waves”.
Tribute to a learned artist
‘Into the Moonlight Parade…’ offers audiences an insight into the rare and lesser-known works of K Ramanujam – he suffered from schizophrenia and died aged 33 – while paying homage to an exceptional artistic personality who had a deep impact on modernism in India. The exhibition presents a series of works in a variety of mediums such as ink and gouache on paper. What caught our eye was a dark and eerie painting that is believed to be Ramanujam’s last work of art created before his death. Depicting dark blotches of black ink and tangled lines, this piece induces a haunting melancholy. “K Ramanujam’s intimate, dreamy and distant world makes us reflect on the extraordinary lengths to which the human spirit perseveres and retains its stability,” Karode concluded.
CHECK IT OUT
WHAT: “K Ramanujam: Moonlight Parade…” and “Atul Dodiya: Walking with the Waves”
WHEN: Until June 30
WHERE: Kiran Nadar Art Museum, Saket