Untitled (Picasso)

Untitled (Picasso)
signed and dated 'Atul '81' (lower right)
oil on paper laid on board
19¼ x 15¾ in. (48.9 x 40 cm.)
Executed in 1981
Gifted by the artist to the present owner

Lot Essay

"Picasso was always my hero."

Atul Dodiya is widely recognised as a figurehead in South Asian contemporary art, influencing many members of the subcontinent's burgeoning younger generation of artists. When asked to describe his style, Dodiya responded by saying, "I try to do many things. I react to many themes. I cannot be a painter who has found a theme and spends all his life painting it. Maybe after a few years I would like this said for me that not to have a style is my style. I explored a certain subject matter and my techniques have been used according to the subject matter." (Artist statement)

This incredibly rare and early portrait by Atul Dodiya of Pablo Picasso was painted a year before he graduated from the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai and displays the influence of Impressionism on Dodiya's use of colour and brushwork. The vigour of his brushwork heightens the expressive qualities of the portrait and the energy builds from the eyes which are the most tightly drawn feature. Here, the rhythms of his brushstrokes spread across the planes of Picasso's face, gaining energy as they ripple through to a turbulent natural brown background.

Later in Dodiya's career, Picasso's art and reputation continues to generate a fruitful dialogue for the artist. Here, he explains his artistic diversity: "I was living in Paris in the Marais area, seven minutes away from the Picasso Museum. I saw that this man has done so much in so many different ways and he had approached every portrait of his differently. He would not repeat himself and that encouraged me to take full liberties with my work and do what I felt like doing. My one-year stay in Paris was extremely important in my career, because when I returned home, I said I would do what I like." (Artist statement, S. Malhotra, 'Atul Dodiya at NGMA', Platform Creative Lifestyle, 2013)

This year Atul Dodiya was part of a group exhibition at The Picasso Museum in Barcelona and had a mid-career retrospective held at The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi in 2013. He has also participated in many international museum exhibitions and biennales, including the Kochi Biennale, 2012, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (2010), Philadelphia Museum of Art (2008), The Helsinki City Art Museum (2006), Tamayo Museum, Mexico City (2004), Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid (2002), The Tate, London (2000). He also participated in the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005. In May 2013, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati put on the first solo exhibition in the United States for the artist.

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