An exhibition of paintings by Anju Dodiya

Artist Anju Dodiya has been in spotlight after two of her works fetched significant prices at the just concluded Saffronart Contemporary Spring Online Auction.

Her 2004 work 'White Heat'- Signed and dated in English (verso) 2004, Acrylic on velvet mattress (Height: 85'; Width: 45 in'; Depth: 7.5') attracted a winning bid value of $139,942 (Rs.6,017,506 - (inclusive of Buyers Premium 10%). Another of her 2001 work 'Pillory' - Signed and dated in English (verso) - Watercolor and charcoal on paper (69' x 44') raked in a winning value of $224,861 ((Rs.9,669,000) - inclusive of Buyers Premium 10%)

Even as Anju Dodiya is in news after the Saffronart Contemporary Spring Online Auction, the artist is hosting her works at Bose Pacia, New York that presents her new paintings. At her latest solo show, which showcases her most recent works, she presents sumptuous paintings on fabric and delicate works on paper.

Anju Dodiya's works are intensely private and thoughtful; sources of inspiration range from Gujarati folktales to Japanese prints to Greek myths. To her, the practice of conceptual art as seen in India seems more a response to international fashions than an authentic portrayal of the art process.

Her art remains rooted in the figurative even though her early works were abstract. Following her first show, "A fictional autobiography", she tried to refocus her gaze on railway stations, roadside scenes, and so forth.

Ultimately she found her original impulse of a painterly introspection was the strongest, and re-channeled her vision into describing situations from her life. In spite of the brilliant colors and numerous symbolic layers woven into each painting, one finds a personal simplicity in her adherence to the essential and the feminine.

The artist, born in Mumbai in 1964, studied at the Sir J.J. School of Art with a BFA in 1986 and has been exhibiting since then. In addition to several solo shows in India, she has participated in notable group exhibitions in Helsinki, Berlin and New York. The self is at the center of Anju Dodiya's works. Though not solipsistic, the majority of her works give the viewer access to private moments, lifted from "the private discourse that goes on within oneself when one is alone".

Although she is interested in the neutral notion of private self and the realm of introspection, there is a distinctly feminine aura about her work. Whether in her use of embroidered textiles as canvas, her depiction of floral forms or her literary allusions, one senses that her protagonists' desires and anxieties are often those unique to woman.

Her reference to Penelope in 'Pink Clouds (for Penelope)' reprises the classic archetype of the young lover waiting patiently for her male companion to return home. In 'Garden of Capillaries', one notices a more dynamic figure, earnestly brandishing a whip in hopes of overcoming the proverbial chase and defying the male gaze. In 'Embrace Vigil' and 'Nocturne' too, one cannot help but focus on the female figures that appear distracted in the midst of making love.

Mattress works such as 'Nocturne' are particularly poignant in their probing of physical intimacy, dreams and slumber. Yet for Anju Dodiya, even slumber is fraught with anxiety. Her 'Pillow' contains a labyrinth in its midst, an ironic testament to the pervasiveness of restlessness.

Her beautiful charcoal and watercolor series Secret Garden presents heads sprouting leaves and tendrils which threaten to entangle their very source, an expression of 'the inner world, erupting outwards.' But her acknowledgement of internal anxiety in the face of 'urban excess' and external pressures is hardly one of resignation.

For Anju Dodiya, the labyrinth is also a symbol of escape and thus, her practice ultimately looks towards freedom and self-realization.

Anju Dodiya's new paintings are on view at Bose Pacia, New York, till April .

Anju Dodiya's previewed works of art of in Saffronart events

view all articles