Galerie Templon is delighted to be presenting work by the pioneer of Indian contemporary art, Atul Dodiya, in his first Parisian exhibition in five years. The artist has devised a brand new exhibition centering on the painter Morandi and celebrating the beauty of a world haunted by the fear of loss. The show features a series of new hybrid works: paintings, installations and cabinets of curiosities.
A dialogue from Federico Fellini's film La Dolce Vita acts as the springboard for the exhibition: during a party in a room dominated by a painting by Giorgio Morandi, the host expresses his fascination for the painter's sense of calm and the beauty of the composition, before revealing the anguish he feels when contemplating this apparent serenity: ‘Peace frightens me. Perhaps I fear it most of all. I feel it's only a facade, hiding the face of hell.’ This tension between a sense of wonderment and the threat of destruction lies at the heart of Atul Dodiya's exhibition.
It opens with twelve paintings drawn directly from the film, followed by a series of paintings inspired by Italian Pre-Renaissance frescos featuring the figures of saints and the Lord Krishna in the midst of Arcadian settings, like the saviours of an environment under threat of ruin. The Brancusi column appears as a recurring abstract motif. Atul Dodiya both merges references and marries techniques (oil painting, epoxy putty on laminate), thus infusing his painting with a new sense of materiality. Three large display cases contain objects Atul Dodiya has found, created and photographed, serving as a reminder of Morandi's work. They include the paper flowers the Italian painter used as a model and which inspired the exhibition's title. Although stiff and lifeless, it expresses the beauty of the work, which we can easily imagine to be suffused with actual scent.
Atul Dodiya was the first to build bridges between Indian and Western art. He spent what was to be a decisive year studying at the Paris l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in the early 1990s. A member of the same generation as Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher and Sudarshan Shetty, he emerged onto the international scene at the same time as his fellow artists, in the 2010s. His work combines popular culture with references to cinema and literature. The humour and the poetry are underpinned by one of his favourite subjects: politics.
Born in 1959, Atul Dodiya lives and works in Mumbai. His work features in a great many international collections, including at the Mnam-Centre Pompidou, Tate Modern, London, Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has taken part in most major exhibitions on India art organised in the USA, Europe and Asia in recent years: After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India at Queens Museum in New York (2015), India: Art Now at the Arken Museum of Modern Art in Denmark (2012), La Route de la soie at Tri Postal in Lille and Paris Delhi Bombay at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2011), Inside India at Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana Turin and The Empire Strikes Back at the Saatchi Gallery in London (2010), and Indian Summer at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris (2000). He also participated in the Kassel documenta12 (curated by Roger Buergel) in 2007, the Gwangju Biennale (curated by Okwui Enwezor) in 2008, the Moscow Biennale (curated by Jean-Hubert Martin) in 2009, the 7th Asia Pacific Trienniai of contemporary Art (APT7), Brisbane, in 2012 and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012. In 2013, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi Organised a mid-career survey show (curated by Ranjit Hoskote). In 2014, the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum held a major exhibition of his work: 7000 Museums.
The show is Atul Dodiya’s third one at the gallery, after Scribes from Timbuktu (Paris, 2012) and Mahatma and the Masters (Brussels, 2015).