MumbaiAtul Dodiya: Seven Minutes of Blackmail
This is Dodiya’s tenth exhibition with Chemould, having started his first solo show in the small space at Jehangir Art Gallery.
A captivating storyteller, Atul’s narratives have touched widespread genres. His canvas becomes the storybook for art history, politics, history, ‘gandhiisms’, personal stories, the list goes on! But what often gets played out in his work is Dodiya’s passion for film. This exhibition exploresâ€‹â€‹ Dodiya’s obsession with the medium, narrating episodic facts as if in film-reels painted in his signature photographic genius, where the act of painting is often mistaken for photography. In this exhibition, he pays homage to the genius of Hitchcock, where Atul is seen recreating his legacy through the close watching of the Hitchcock film, Blackmail. He has made a set of 36 paintings – which could best be read as a ‘contact sheet ‘.
Released in 1929, this directorial genius is an eerie depiction of effective emotion, impulsive reactions and a chase. This resonates with Atul Dodiya’s journey of creating a work of art and its final rendition. The paintings are also testimony to the keen nuances with which Dodiya observes gesture, expression, and bodily movements. It is also interesting to note how Dodiya treats the canvas. Images are shot through the television screen, these images then become the photographs that are used to render his paintings. His photographs carry with them a graininess, which Dodiya masterfully uses to create painterly markings within this series of paintings. Motifs of past dawn new faces and make their way into his latest works, seamlessly working with relevant ideologies to produce a new ‘ blockbuster’!
Added to this series of 36 small works, are works that are shaped as artist palettes. A palette is an oft-used commercial emblem for expressing art, artist, or an art event. In this exhibition taking from the storyline of Hitchcock’s ‘Blackmail’, which involves a murder within an artist’s studio, Dodiya cheekily uses an oversized palette to create abstract expressionist markings, quite unlike anything he has done before. An artist thinks countless times before marking the blank canvas with paint; forced by the pressure of performance teamed with the impulse of the colours exposed on the palette, he takes a step closer to its culmination. When the palette becomes his canvas, it becomes a litmus paper for all the permutation and combination of colours, the palette reckons with the artist’s apprehensions of the final strike. The works from this exhibition are rendered in oil paints and often put the viewer in a dilemma between the reel and real!
A circadian endeavour of almost two years; in this exhibition, Dodiya takes on the role of a scenographer and cinematographist. He has effectively captured the granulated tension of celluloid on canvas whilst decoding psychological games played between the actors. Staying true to the colour palette of the black-and-white era, Dodiya has played with scale aiming to amp up the creative chaos.
Peeking through the lens of a cinematic enigma, Atul Dodiya seamlessly apprehends chaotic indignation through ‘Seven Minutes of Blackmail’.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)