Atul Dodiya’s (CRF 1999) solo exhibition “Dr. Banerjee in Dr. Kulkarni’s Nursing Home and other paintings 2020 – 2022” opens today, January 12th, at Gallery Chemould Prescott Road in Mumbai. The show will be open through February 17th, with a preview during Mumbai Gallery Weekend. There will be a walkthrough with the artist on Saturday, January 14th at 3PM.

“Life throbs in the frozen moment. We are inside the room where the artificial is real and truth resides. The actor does not lie.” – Atul Dodiya

Drawing from popular Indian cinema, Atul Dodiya creates paintings populated by iconic characters in his signature realistic style. This is not the first time Dodiya has painted from cinema, and in this latest serieshe returns to the theme in a reel of 24 paintings. 24 is a particular number in cinematography, with 24 frames in each second. In this show, we see 24 paintings mimicking a running storyboard, creating their own fiction.

Watching and rewatching movies during the lockdown year of the pandemic triggered the series. Films like PadosanKapurush, Kagazke Phool, Awaara, Ittefaq, that he watched often with his parents as a young man, and one like Anand (from which the title of the exhibition emerges), where then superstar Rajesh Khanna paved the way for Amitabh Bachchan, all find a way into the work.

Dodiya’s cinematic references date as early as 1995 when he used images from the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, Ritwik Ghatak and Guru Dutt. Here, he looks closely at film sets from a range of popular and non-commercial cinema, from filmmakers like Hrishikesh Mukherjee to Satyajit Ray. The false character of sets – the fake staircase, a painted window, or a door that leads to nowhere– provide the vocabulary for this set of paintings. While watching these films as closely as he did, Dodiya began to photograph his own decisive moment. Each of these “frozen moments,” carefully chosen, shot on his iPhone, became pictorial possibilities with the subjects imbued with a new mystery. The false interiors are celebrated, recreated in the pastel hues of the hand painted photograph of the early 20th century. The pinks, turquoise, pale blues gather to build a tonal atmosphere where the unreal becomes a new story, another truth. Learn more here.

Image: Atul Dodiya, Anuradha with sprained ankle, 2020-2022. Oil on Canvas, 60 x 78 in.