Critics’ Picks

Anju Dodiya, Red Ascent, 2014, watercolor, charcoal, and soft pastel on paper, 72 x 45”.

New Delhi

Anju Dodiya

Vadehra Art Gallery | D-53
D-53, Defence Colony
January 17–February 14

“Dying / Is an art, like everything else. / I do it exceptionally well,” wrote Sylvia Plath in “Lady Lazarus.” So it hardly comes as a surprise that Anju Dodiya, a self-professed Plath fan, explores death and its relationship to art in her exhibition titled “Imagined Immortals.” In a series of mixed media works on paper, all executed in 2014, she uses collage as a device to investigate the fragile nature of the human body, creating quirky juxtapositions in the process.

Pages from medical books with detailed anatomical drawings serve as the basis for collages, as inAphrodite and Concave/Convex. The artist often inserts drawings of herself among the sinew and bones, whether in the Hypnotist’s Party, where she holds up a skull, or in Bodyguard, where she is framed by two skeletons. This type of self-portrait is a trope that Dodiya has consistently employed to expose the inner demons she battles while making art. She has often spoken of the terror of facing a blank slate in that process, and nowhere is this better articulated than in the drawing Red Ascent where she holds up a blank piece of paper with a paintbrush clenched between her teeth. In Panic Room (for Buñuel) the artist resorts to another of her favored artistic devices—role-playing. While in one part of the watercolor, charcoal, and pastel drawing she appears juggling heads instead of balls, elsewhere a dark and shadowy figure tugs at her gown, as if holding her back from what she wishes to do.