Hema Upadhyay and Atul Dodiya Exhibit in Ohio

Tarika Agarwal discusses the works of two Indian artists who are currently exhibiting in Ohio

Mumbai: The Contemporary Arts Center in Ohio is currently hosting two individual exhibitions of works by Hema Upadhyay and Atul Dodiya. These exhibitions opened in early February, and will go on till 5 May, 2013. The Center is known to provide people an opportunity to discover the dynamic relationship between art and life by exhibiting the works of progressive artists. Their aim is to challenge, entertain and educate.

Hema Upadhyay was born in 1972 in Baroda, India. She has lived and worked in Mumbai since 1998. She uses self-photography and sculptural installations to explore notions of dislocation and nostalgia. Since the early 2000s she has exhibited her work all over the world including Australia, Singapore, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.

In the current exhibition Upadhyay addresses the aesthetic qualities of everyday life via images she has taken of the slums and densely populated areas of Mumbai, India. She is fascinated by urbanization and its effects on Mumbai. The area she has chosen to depict was once an undesirable piece of marshland outside of the city, but as the city started to expand the area was eventually occupied by slums and became a central part of the city. She is drawn to the slums because of how they are little worlds of their own, away from reality while being situated in and around posh neighborhoods. She is also attracted to the aesthetic traits of the slums because the areas are usually marked by the juxtaposition of vibrant colours and diverse materials.

The most mesmerizing work she has exhibited is a piece titled ‘Modernization’. It is an aerial view of a slum on the floor of the gallery made up of the materials that the buildings themselves use – corrugated aluminum sheets, car scrap, enamel paint, tarpaulin, and found objects. She has installed it as a minimalistic patchwork of squares.

Atul Dodiya was born in 1959 in Mumbai, India. He began exhibiting his works in the early 1980s after he graduated from Sir J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai. He later went onto study further at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Dodiya is currently one of the most prominent figures of contemporary Indian Art. Like Upadhyay, he has exhibited his works globally. Dodiya combines both Eastern and Western influences in his installations and paintings through film, popular culture and literature. His works are usually personal since they imbibe his own thoughts with reference to the history of art and his home country, India.

At this show, his work is created on metal shutters of store fronts salvaged from the streets of Mumbai. He wants viewers to interact with the pieces – to open and close the shutters with their original pulley mechanisms in order to experience each in it entirety, as both the front and the interior of the shutter are painted. So don’t feel shy to touch his works, when you decide to go to the exhibition.

The reason Dodiya uses shutters is because in Mumbai, the shutter is a symbol of security and marks the sharp contrast in the aesthetic of the city between day and night. Post sunset or during times of civil unrest, the shutters become a form of armour that protects the various goods of shop owners from the dangers of the outside world.

As there are only two images (one per artist) available from the exhibition, I have taken the liberty to put up images of similar works by both the artists so you can have an idea of what you would get to see if you did attend the show.

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