‘I was born and brought up in Mumbai,’ says artist Atul Dodiya, walking through the bustling streets of the city he describes as ‘truly metropolitan’. The centre of the booming Bollywood industry, Mumbai’s walls are plastered with film posters that serve as an influence on Dodiya’s practice. ‘Sometimes just a single word can trigger a series of paintings,’ he explains. ‘I get this urgent need to explore — that’s how it starts.’
In this video, Dodiya, whose work features in our South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art sale on 14 September at Christie’s in New York, takes us inside his studio to discuss the stories behind finished paintings, and to offer a preview of works in progress. A new series of shutter paintings, begun in 2000, recalls the city-wide curfews prompted by riots in the 1990s, while a trio of works pays homage to his friend, the artist Bhupen Khakhar.
Anchored in his home city, Dodiya’s practice is nevertheless influenced by the work of Western artists — from Howard Hodgkin and Jasper Johns to Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, who he describes as being ‘like family’. As for his process, Dodiya admits to a degree of spontaneity: ‘You could have a text of Gandhi, or images of great film makers, but it’s how you make an independent work of art — that’s the concern.’