Having achieved the status of a master of contemporary Indian art, one would imagine Atul Dodiya to be placed on an unapproachable pedestal. Yet, his unassuming manner and affable demeanour ensure that he’s one of the most popular personalities in the South Asian art fraternity. Minutes after graciously accepting the award for his ‘Contribution to Contemporary Art in South Asia’, he speaks with HELLO! about the changing face of the artscape in the region.
HELLO!: How do you bear the responsibility of being a global icon for South Asian art?
Atul Dodiya: “I believe my real responsibility as an artist is to engage the viewers. I’ve been working for many years now, and my approach has remained diverse throughout. I never follow a particular style, and this diversity ensures that my artworks appeal to a wide range of people because art is for everybody. Some say they don’t understand modern art, but it’s the artist’s responsibility to convey their message or convince the viewer of what they should be seeing.”
H!: What must the art fraternity do to encourage greater international exposure of South Asian art?
AD: “Fortunately, our Indian and South Asian galleries are already quite active in this sphere. But, most importantly, I feel one should not crave acknowledgment only from the West. Europe and America have a history of preserving and giving importance to their own art. This is something South Asians haven’t yet come to terms with. We need more writers, curators, and spaces. Collectors and museums also play a big role because everyone who is engaged in the business of art is responsible for promoting its awareness. They must collectively work hard to get more people involved. After all, art gives a tremendous amount of joy and a sense of freedom. The act of creation is beautiful.”
H!: What advice would you share with young and upcoming artists?
AD: “Young people need to have a passion and love for what they are doing, instead of just thinking about their careers in terms of recognition and fame. One should not be too happy with praise either. Also, young artists have a tendency to repeat forms and styles in their work because they have been recognised for a particular thing, but this should be avoided.”
H!: What do you think is the importance of platforms that promote the arts, like the HELLO! India Art Awards?
AD: “Any kind of activity related to art is a good thing and should be encouraged. I believe we still have a long way to go in terms of art appreciation, but there’s hope for things to improve if young artists receive recognition. Appreciation can only come from education at a young age. Students should be taken to exhibitions and shown works of art. The stories of these artworks should be explained to them, both abstract and figurative. From an early age, they should be made familiar with visual arts and how they developed. HELLO!’s initiative is a step in the right direction.”
This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the March 2023 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!