B for Bapu (left) & How to Draw a Line Without Dots (right)

Atul Dodiya

Devi Art Foundation

Devi Art Foundation
Gurgaon, Haryana, India

(left) Atul Dodiya is one of the first artists of his generation to make extensive use of imagery from popular visual culture in his canvases. Juxtaposing disparate images from calendar art, advertising, art history and political propaganda, since the mid-1990’s he has forged a language out of the collision of disparate visual vocabularies.

In 2000 Atul Dodiya began to paint on storefront metal shutters. Most of these works are dialogic diptychs, in which the image on the shutter can be rolled up to reveal another image, often one that offered a startling contrast to the first. The viewer has to physically engage with the work to allow a narrative to emerge.

In B for Bapu, instead of an opaque shutter, Dodiya uses one with a honeycomb screen. Whether the shutter is up or down, we can see the image of Bapu, the father of the nation. Dodiya’s image of Gandhi is based on a photograph that shows him sipping honey and water at the end of a fast. Where we see Gandhi appearing to consume a beverage, the historical reference is to an act of self-denial, part of Gandhi’s unique capacity to lead through self-effacement.

(right) C. R. Nanaiah’s posters serve as an ironic counter to the profusion of canvassing material that one is surrounded by at the time of elections. During an artists’ residency, Nanaiah inundated public space with these cheaply printed posters, plastering them on walls alongside other election campaign posters.

Shifting the emphasis from the candidates who aspire to be leaders in public life, to the ‘dots’ or the voters who create these leaders, Nanaiah’s poster shows the ink-marked finger of the voter who has already voted. Whom he voted for remains unknown to us. This finger is triumphant, and even defiant. The collectivity of gesticulating fingers pasted on the wall might be making their irreverent gesture to us or to the politicians whose fate hinges upon their action.


  • Title: B for Bapu (left) & How to Draw a Line Without Dots (right)
  • Creator: Atul Dodiya (left) & C.R. Nanaiah (right)
  • Date: 2001 (left) & 2006 (right)
  • Location: Devi Art Foundation
  • Physical Dimensions: 98inches x 66inches (left) & 15inches x 22inches (right)
  • Type: Photograph
  • Method or Style: Oil on canvas and metal shutter (left) & Print on newsprint paper (right)

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