These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more “This painting is a mix of many things. The show [Humour on Line, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai, 1999] was about humour, and artists who use humour and wit in their work were asked to participate including Bhupen [Khakhar], Arpita Singh and Amit Ambalal.  I’d been to Germany in 1997 and had seen fantastic works by the German masters, including [Anselm] Kiefer and [Sigmar] Polke and I was keen to do something using these artist’s images. So I made a group of paintings on laminate titled German Measles. This work is the only diptych from the series. One side references a sculpture and painting by Keifer and on the right is an Indian man in prisoner’s clothes. Keifer never liked to be photographed until much later in his career and I like the ambiguity of who this man may be. It looks partly like me, partly like Ambedkar perhaps, and partly like how I imagined Kiefer. In the mid-1990s, I saw an image of the leader, Veer Savarkar in a jail on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In the picture, there was a poem written by him in charcoal on the wall behind him and this image stayed with me. I thought of Keifer who keeps referencing German history, the guilt of Germany’s past, and how his work constantly deals with this subject. So the text in my painting is actually a poem written by Keifer in German and translated into English. I heard that this text is also a nursery rhyme in Poland and I thought how dreadful it must be for children to grow up repeating these lines. All these elements of pain and sorrow come together this in work and for me, this painting is really a homage to Keifer’s emotions.” (in dialogue with the artist, April 2015) PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION, NEW DELHI

German Measles: Kiefer's Cell

German Measles: Kiefer's Cell
inscribed, titled, dated and signed 'ATUL DODIYA / "GERMAN MEASLES - 'KIEFER'S CELL'" / (DIPTYCH) / 1999 / ENAMEL PAINT ON LAMINATE / 72" x 48" / Atul' twice (on the reverse)
enamel paint on laminate board; diptych
72 x 48 in. (182.9 x 121.9 cm.) each; 72 x 96 in. (182.9 x 243.8 cm.) overall
Painted in 1999
Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
Humour on Line, exhibition catalogue, Mumbai, 1999 (unpaginated)
Bombay: Labyrinth/Laboratory, exhibition catalogue, Tokyo, 2001, p. 47 (illustrated)
R. Hoskote, ed., Atul Dodiya, New Delhi, 2013, p. 167 (illustrated)
Mumbai, Sakshi Gallery, Humour on Line, 1999
Tokyo, The Japan Foundation, Bombay: Labyrinth/Laboratory, 2001
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Damian Vesey
Damian Vesey

Lot Essay

Atul Dodiya’s allegorical collages fuse fragments of art historical masterpieces with moments of Pop Culture, current events and his own autobiography. Beginning his career with a straightforward and cleverly deadpan realist style, Dodiya moved away from the literal in the mid-1990s towards a more fragmented and multilayered technique as seen in this painting. Immensely conscious of history, his works reflect his impressive knowledge of both current events and ancient religions, and he quotes freely from the recesses of both Western and Indian art traditions. Capitalising on the Post-Modern tendency of ironic juxtaposition, Dodiya often includes the vocabulary of Western contemporary art as seen in this painting from the series German Measles, which references the monumental paintings of 1930s interiors created by the German Artist Anselm Keifer. For Dodiya, “There are many reasons to incorporate images already existing in images in one’s own work. ‘When you see an image and immediately recognise it, it is because you already know it well and the history behind it, so the entire package is already in existence. When such a well known image reappears in my painting, I try to give it another context, another and unfamiliar dimension in which to see it. It is a jugglery on both the artist’s and the viewer’s part. The joy of recognising a familiar image is one thing, but trying to locate it and make sense of it in another context makes the viewer more engaged, often intellectually’.” (Atul Dodiya in Converstation with Nancy Adajania, Atul Dodiya, New York, 2013, p. 119)

“Dodiya’s preoccupations with the interweaving of national history and autobiography is also expressed in the multi-panel series titled German Measles (1999). At the thematic centre of the series stand two ironic self-portraits: the artist as eager apprentice to the oracular tradition of art, hearing voices from the heaven of critical aesthetes; and the artist as hero imprisoned and martyred by taste and the market. Formally, Dodiya expresses his continuing fascination with the works of such post-World War II German artists as Beuys, Kiefer, Polke, Richter and Immendorf, with its themes of holocaust, tragic memory and heroic but melancholy regeneration. The medical-sounding title of the series, German Measles, is a pun through which Dodiya playfully suggests the contagious nature of his enthusiasm for these artists. He inserts canonical images associated with Beuys, Polke and Kiefer into a flow of imagery tapped from the urban Indian fold art of the poster and the popular-magazine illustration. This vivid intersection between two radically different pictorial universes reflects Dodiya’s own dual nature as an artist who is comfortable both with museum art and popular culture.” (R. Hoskote, ‘Atul Dodiya’, Capital + Karma: Recent Positions on Indian Art, Berlin, 2003, pp. 136-138)

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