Review: Atul Dodiya - Duplicator's Dilemma

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 January, 2014, 10:36pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 January, 2014, 10:36pm

10 Chancery Lane Gallery

Hong Kong's interest in collectable Indian modernist masters - such as M.F. Husain, Akbar Padamsee and Jogen Chowdhury - has overshadowed the exhibition of contemporary Indian art in the city. However, this could be changing. Hanart TZ Gallery's Johnson Chang Tsong-zung's personal "West Heavens" exhibition and research project aims to resurrect and continue the fervent dissemination of ideas and links that India and China enjoyed over the previous two millennia.

Likewise, Atul Dodiya's exhibition at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery introduces one of India's prominent contemporary artists to Hong Kong audiences.

Dodiya was born in 1959 and has been widely exhibited around the world. Dodiya's "Duplicator's Dilemma" features three of his signature roller-shutter door paintings and are complemented by a series of smaller paintings of delicate black-and-white watercolours of figures in camera-caught motion.

Layers of duplication, copying and appropriation are explored as Dodiya exactly copies Roy Lichtenstein's 1963 painting Image Duplicator onto the door of a roller-shutter (pictured below). Lichtenstein himself freely used ideas from other work. He took, and redacted, a text from an unidentified comic magazine, which Dodiya reuses. "What! Why did you say that! What do you know about my image duplicator?" And for the headshot of the young man speaking, Lichtenstein/Dodiya uses the artwork of comic artists Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman. The iconic Lichtenstein, widely imitated pop-comic genre is reformed by Dodiya.

Dodiya breaks the duplication - reminiscent of the endless reflection seen in two closely held mirrors at right angles - when a roller-door is lifted. Underneath, painted on canvas, the Lichtenstein pop aesthetic continues, but the shape of a scribe - a Dodiya motif - a person who copies and writes as a profession, is revealed.

In its modern Indian usage, scribe could also be a journalist. Dodiya plays with visual truth in his roller-shutter paintings. But, do these scribes know truth? Do they uphold truth? Dodiya asks them: "What do you know about my image?"

John Batten


Until January 30