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Till it’s time to meet again

Thoughts from the Studio

Anju Dodiya

I am not isolated enough. I am with my family. I am grateful, but complete solitude is what feeds my art. This is different.

In the beautiful mornings, hearing the birds and the squirrels, (and nowadays, monkeys too in Ghatkopar), I forget about the crisis.

At 11ish the screens light up, statistics loom and there is news of storms (geographic and political), that vegetables are scarce. The gray abandoned building sites next door remind me of the absences. Where are they and what must they be doing? The istrywala, the night watchman, the cement clad labourers and the rickshaw walas…

I cook and clean, pretending that it is a meditative practice. Lying is legitimate when it heals.

Later, in my studio downstairs, I generously drench the garden. It reciprocates with happier thoughts and many flowers. I sit down, trying to work and find myself drawing masked faces, safe enclosures for the self. To protect my breath from yours, and yours from mine. Till it’s time to meet again.

Nights are spent revisiting Bergman, Tarkovsky and Kurosawa; escaping dystopia and embracing a black and white lucidity.
The great Venetian painter Tintoretto died in a plague pandemic and Munch survived the Spanish flu. I can only laugh at my audacity in February, when I had told a friend that I was planning to do some joyous paintings. What the hell are joyous paintings? Munch gives me joy, most Italian pietas make me sing and the bleak wartime still-lives of Picasso are sumptuous.

So will we sustain our joy? What lies ahead?”

This is part of a series called ‘Thoughts from the Studio’ initiated by the Vadehra Art Gallery, Delhi. Published here in collaboration with the gallery.

Born in 1964 in Mumbai, India, Anju Dodiya trained and received her fine arts degree from the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai. Her recent solo exhibitions include those at Vadehra Art Gallery at Bikaner House, New Delhi, 2018; the Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, 2016; Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai, 2012; Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore & Bodhi Art, Singapore, Mumbai, New York, 2008, to name a few. She is also represented in several private and public collections in India and abroad, including the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Mumbai; and the Art Institute of Chicago.