mumbai

View of “Atul Dodiya,” 2011. Left: Thump! Thump!, 2011. Right: Meditation (with open eyes), 2011.

Atul Dodiya

Chemould Prescott Road

View of “Atul Dodiya,” 2011. Left: Thump! Thump!, 2011. Right: Meditation (with open eyes), 2011.

“It’s just like being back in school,” a gallery-goer muttered grumpily, upon entering Gujarati artist Atul Dodiya’s latest, much anticipated solo show, “Bako Exists. Imagine.” The syntax of the title simulated that of an exam question, with the imperative “imagine” standing in for “discuss,” while the gallery, with its set of nine wooden cabinets and what masqueraded as eleven blackboards crammed with chalky English script, also created the impression that we had entered a room in a provincial schoolhouse—much like the one that Dodiya must have attended when growing up in Ghatkopar, a suburb of Mumbai. The white text on the “blackboards” (actually oil, acrylic, and marble dust on canvas) recalls the super-neat handwriting of a child, each letter isolated from the other. Since Dodiya went to a “vernacular school”—that is, one that did not use English as a primary

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