Dec 11, 2014 - Feb 10, 2015

7000 Museums: A Project for the Republic of India

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum

This exhibition by artist Atul Dodiya comprised a comprehensive body of artworks, with oil paintings, water colours and sculptural assemblages. The show was a part of the Museum's exhibition series curated by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, titled 'Engaging Traditions'

7000 Museums: A Project For The Republic Of India
As part of the curated series of exhibitions titled, 'Engaging Traditions', artist Atul Dodiya responds to the Museum's collection, history and archives.This show comprised a comprehensive body of artworks, with oil paintings, water colours and sculptural assemblages. The works engaged in a layered dialogue with various objects from the Museum’s collection. They referenced defining moments of history, art history as well as the authority of museums and the semantics of museum displays. 'Engaging Traditions' is an exhibition series curated by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta.
In vitrines, Atul Dodiya assembles an encyclopaedic vision of potentialities. Mythical figures take on a contemporary characterisation invoking the theatrical models and dioramas in the Museum. They nudge painterly references from Tagore, movies and great artists Atul admires, images from a personal history, or the popular kitsch that abounds in Mumbai’s markets. 

Seen here: The form of Varaha, 3rd Avatar from Dashavatar series of Vishnu from the Museum collection, carrying 'bhoomi', the earth, in an anthropomorphic form.
The parallel photographs are from prominent places around the world such as the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, Library in Chandigadh by Le Corbusier and a photo of work by French artist Laure Prouvost,'at night, this water turns black'.

Assemblages in the vitrine include a watercolor by Atul, referring to the first boat travelled from Karachi to Bombay post- partition of India. It has been juxtaposed with the ladder with magnets representing some of the seminal paintings by western artists as a point of departure.

References in the vitrine include the sculptural form of Vamana, the 5th avatar from Dashavatar series of Vishnu from the Museum collection. It has been juxtaposed with an abstract image found by Atul at a Moorish Castle in Spain. It appears as a symbolic gesture of Vishnu controlling the universe but ironically he is wounded.

In an inspired binary juxtaposition Atul paints the poems of Arun Kolatkar on the reverse of the vitrines, inscribing a sharp edge into the playfulness, an act that reflects the city itself built as it is on loss and hope.

On the reverse of the vitrines, Atul had displayed large watercolours which had well known local poet Arun Kolatkar's poetry from his 'Kala Ghoda Poems'. The poems are considered a fine example of postcolonial literature written about the city of Mumbai.

Dodiya's water colour series humorously addresses ideas of local cultural representation through a construction of mock museums which represents both a lament and a hope.
Dodiya's paintings in oil recreate historical photographs of events from the freedom struggle which recall the magnificent aspirations of the nation’s founding fathers. These are ruptured by a strong painterly gesture in colour against the black and white, taken from abstractions of the works of artists of the time, such as Rabindranath Tagore, as well as the Museum’s archive of pre-restoration damaged paintings. The gesture sometimes acquires a flourish that recalls the decorative lines of the building as the artist fuses fact and fantasy into a striking allegory of our times.
Atul Dodiya
Credits: Story

All artworks courtesy Atul Dodiya from the exhibition, '7000 Museums: A Project for the Republic of India' at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai (December 11, 2014 - February 10, 2015)

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