Anju Dodiya
The Shedding

The Shedding by Anju Dodiya is part of a series of mattress paintings the artist creates using fabric stretched on padded and shaped boards. The imagery relates to other paintings in this body work that expresses the visceral and vulnerable side of creativity. The posture of the protagonist—a part-human, part-carapaced animal—is opening herself outwardly. The costume or the metamorphosing body was inspired by an outrageous gown the artist saw featured at the Met Ball. The hybrid form turns the woman/artist into a crustacean of sorts; a shelled being, in the process of shedding her crusted layers, slowly, painfully. The painting illustrates how, for Dodiya, the studio is a space for shedding ideas and inhibitions; she writes that “the creative self seeks lightness, always”.

More broadly, Dodiya’s mattress paintings relate to the intimate and domestic, in which truths of self-knowledge are disclosed through meticulous restraint and creative disorientation, but still rife with energy. These shaped mattresses have grown from her earlier mattress paintings, engaged with sharp forms, now named ‘soft shards’ as reminders of domestic ease coloured by an incurable existential anxiety. The works are overlaid and interrupted by watercolor and charcoal drawings and prints. Dodiya sometimes includes collage-like interventions in these works using fabric sourced from different geographies, as vibrant disruptors.

Anju Dodiya paintings feature autobiographical and human relationships, with 'women' usually at the center. With a constant interest in the human mind and psychoanalysis, her inclination towards anthropomorphic imagery has continued to feature in her works. Dodiya is influenced by Renaissance painters like Giotto, the films of Ingmar Bergman, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, and the poetry of Sylvia Plath. She has also been inspired by medieval devotional poetry, Gujarati folklore and myths from around the world. A subtle commentary on contemporary events, sociology, economics and culture have been major themes of her artworks. Newspaper headlines, photographs of fashion models, and films are the reference material for her paintings. The details in her paintings show the outward appearance of reality with layered symbolism. She has also used cloth as a medium of painting in different ways.