Like Sylvia Plath, from one of whose poems, ‘Mystic’, she drew the title of her current show in Delhi, artist Anju Dodiya is always looking for hooks to allay the fears and anxieties that shadow her imagination. She speaks to Medha Dutta about her works that are fraught with psychological perplexity, the interplay of torment and creative anticipation.
Tell us about your art.
It has been a journey of a fictional self-image and in tensely choreographed narratives. Watercolour has been my medium for over 20 years now, with excited interruptions with working on fabric.
What influences your art?
I feel rich in all the inputs that I allow into my image-making. From the early Italian masters like Giotto and Piero Della Francesca, the delightful Robert Rauschenberg, and going on to fashion icons like Rei Kawakubo—I have seeking eyes always. I am also inspired by poetry and cinema. I often jot down a phrase or a line from a poem—which can trigger a series of images.
Did you always want to be an artist?
I went to the JJ School of Art, Mumbai, after two years of studying Commerce—which I absolutely hated. I felt creative but didn’t have the confidence to jump into art school. A few weeks of art school and I knew that this was what I would love to do. I realised I only wanted to be an artist.
I have heard your studio is like a meditation room.
Well, art is a solitary, meditative practice for me. I have some plants, books and music for company in my studio.
Have you and your husband—artist Atul Dodiya—ever collaborated on a project?
There was one work, many years ago. Artist couples were invited to an exhibition to collaborate, and we ended up doing it.
It’s a family of artists, so what are dinner conversations on the table like?
Yes, my daughter is an artist too, and we are always talking art. Holidays are museum marathons for us. Arguments and conversations are all triggered by art. It’s kind of crazy and obsessive.
Does the young generation in India really understand and appreciate art?
Yes, young people are open, smart and inquisitive. Perhaps the art of painting is not practiced as much so the viewers are less patient and observing of it which is sometimes thought of as an old-fashioned medium.
The artists she is most influenced by.
Philip Guston and Robert Rauschenberg
Her favourite art work.
The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua with Giotto’s fresco cycle
The most underrated artist.
Masters such as Piero Della Francesca and Morandi were both underrated in their times