Caption (Left Image):
L’Art de l’art (avec Hokusaï), 2000,
Hassan Musa, textile ink on cloth, Collection of Mr. and Mrs.
Caption (Right Image): The Bombay Buccaneer,
1994, Atul Dodiya, oil, acrylic and wood on canvas, Chester and
Davida Herwitz Collection, PEM
Hassan Musa, in his painting L’Art de l’art,
and Atul Dodiya, in his self portrait Bombay
Buccaneer, have created believable but imaginary spaces borrowed
from the performing arts. Since theater and film are generally
regarded as artifice, the artists make it clear with these references
that whatever meaning there is in their work it is transient,
changeable, and subjective. The meaning can depend on who is looking
and what, as Musa says “…their situational interest
is” at the time they are looking.
Dodiya mimics a cinematic close-up by contrasting the distant
space behind him and his frame-filling head. Then he uses the
reflections in his dark glasses to penetrate the picture plane
and draw the viewer into his space while simultaneously shutting
them out by covering his eyes, traditionally regarded as the most
telling facial feature. In the lenses he painted portraits of
two artists who have influenced him, David Hockney
and Bhupen Khakhar. Dodiya also includes
a black-and-white clap stick, a symbol of the motion picture industry,
the romantic-sounding title, Bombay Buccaneer, and a
handgun to further the cinematic connections.
Musa treats his canvas like a stage. Three sides are bordered
to look like a curtained proscenium and there are two perspective
lines in the lower right-hand corner to make the figures look
as if they are on a recessed, stage-like space. Musa carefully
organized the iconic figures of Western art so that they appear
to be speaking to, or at least relating to one another in some
manner. Then, by allowing the printed fruit and flower design
of the fabric he has used as a canvas to float in the stage space
he denies the depth perspective, accentuating the artifice of
both the original images and the new image he has created with
It is interesting to consider why Musa selected the particular
artists he did for L’Art de l’art. Mantegna’s
frescos represented the boldest example of “Illusionism”
found anywhere in the entire 15th century. A master of perspective
and foreshortening, Mantegna made important contributions to the
compositional techniques of Renaissance painting.
It was through him that other European artists became aware of
the artistic discoveries of the period that still characterize
Western art today.
In other works Musa chose the well-known entertainer and stage
personality Josephine Baker as a subject for a series that comments
on the malleable and fluctuating nature of identity. Musa’s
references to performance art are not confined to two-dimensional
representations. Many of his art works include site-specific performances
that involve the audience.
Atul Dodiya is a leading artist of India, known
especially for his unusual use of popular imagery and everyday
objects in his art. Originally from Ghatkopar, Gujurat, he now
lives and works in Bombay. Dodiya knew at the age of 11 that he
wanted to be a painter. After struggling through school he immersed
himself in his true passion -- art.
As an artist Dodiya is committed to the revitalization of the
two-dimensional painted surface. He engages with popular culture,
referencing comic strips, popular religious oleographs, advertising
billboards, movie posters, and favorite paintings from the Indian,
European and American traditions. Assembling images from these
disparate sources into autobiographical narratives, fantasies
spawned by the movies of Bollywood, and other postmodern ideas
addressing global consumerism, politics and the arts, he creates
paintings that can be introspective and amusing while dissolving
the boundaries between “fine art” and popular culture.
Dodiya is known for referencing Bollywood and the cinema and he
does so for good reason. India leads the world in movie output,
with more than 900 films produced annually. These films command
an enormous domestic market and have become increasingly popular
abroad, particularly in other parts of Asia and in Africa. The
major production centers are Mumbai (also known as Bollywood),
Madras and Calcutta. Movies are the most popular medium of entertainment
in India with most commercial cinema revolving around social dramas
and thrillers featuring numerous song and dance sequences. Recently,
art cinema that takes a serious look at Indian society has become
popular. Recognition of Indian artists and directors at international
film festivals is increasing and includes an Oscar awarded to
the late Satyajit Ray in 1992 for Lifetime Achievement in Cinema.
As influences on his work, Dodiya cites British painter David
Hockney, Italian Surrealist Giorgio de Chirico and American neo-Dadaist
realist Jasper Johns. Other influences include Indian artists
S. H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, and especially Bhupen Khakhar. As an expression
of his recurring preoccupation with impermanence and transience,
Dodiya does not sign his paintings.
Atul Dodiya Bombay:Labyrinth/Laboratory exhibition catalogue published
by the Japan Foundation Asia Center, 2001
Related Web Links: 1
David Hockney is a British painter, draughtsman,
printmaker, photographer, and designer. As a student at the Royal
College of Art, he achieved international success by the time
he was in his mid 20s, and is one of the best known British artist
of his generation. Hockney’s early paintings earned him
a reputation as a Pop artist, a label he rejects.
In the late 1960s Hockney painted some striking portraits in a
weightier, more traditionally representational manner. He has
spent much of his time in the United States, and the Californian
swimming pool has been one of his favorite themes. Hockney is
a brilliant draughtsman and has been as outstanding as a graphic
artist as a painter. He has illustrated and written books, taught
at universities, and designed for operas, fashion magazines and
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Impressionism A theory and style of painting
that originated and was developed in France during the 1860s and
1870s. It was characterized by a concentration on the immediate
transitory visual impressions produced by a scene in nature with
light and color being of primary importance. The desired effects
were achieved with the use of unmixed primary colors and small
strokes to simulate actual reflected light. Noted Impressionist
artists include Pissarro, Degas, Monet, Renoir and Cezanne.
Bhupen Khakhar was born in Bombay and lived and
worked in Baroda, India. He is a self-trained painter who has
earned an international reputation for creating paintings that
address universal humanity using Indian subject matter and popular
imagery. Khakhar’s father died when he was four years old
and the boy was raised by his mother. To satisfy the expectation
of his middle-class family Khakhar initially trained as an accountant.
He began painting in the early 1960s when he moved to the University
town of Baroda, north of Bombay, where he completed a degree in
Khakhar’s early works draw on his interest in the imagery
of Indian popular culture -- cinema posters, calendar art and
street kitsch. This interest is less apparent in his later works.
With the eye of a satirist, Khakhar chronicles the more comic
aspects of middle class Indian life. Inspired by traditional Indian
painting styles, Khakhar's visual language is saturated with jewel-toned
colors, decorated with gorgeous landscapes, and populated with
a variety of human figures. These figures co-exist harmoniously,
celebrating love and contentment. Khakhar’s are completely
original works that address the universal human needs of closeness,
interaction, and pleasure.
Colonial rule, industrialization and the rise of Nationalism in
the 20th century influenced Indian art and the development of
a true Indian aesthetic. Issues of identity and the complexities
of contemporary Indian culture remain central to the work of contemporary
artists like Bhupen Khakar.
Related Web Links: 1
The Renaissance was the transitional movement
in Europe marked by a revival or rebirth of cultural awareness
and learning that gained ground during the 14th and 15th centuries
and ended in the 17th century. The movement was centered in Italy,
but also took root in Germany and other European countries. Characterized
by a renewed interest in ancient Greek and Roman art and design,
the period was characterized by a humanistic revival of the classical
influence that was expressed in a flowering of the arts, literature,
and philosophy. It also marked the beginnings of modern science
with an emphasis on human beings and their environment. Noted
Renaissance artists include Giotto, DaVinci, Michelangelo and
Art Elements and Principles
Six art elements can be thought of as the building blocks artists
use in forming an art work. Seven art principles that organize
the “blocks” can be thought of as the construction
Elements - The building blocks
1. LINE A mark/stoke
longer than it is wide: straight/curved, horizontal, vertical,
diagonal, and thick/thin.
2. COLOR What we
see when light is reflected or absorbed by surfaces: saturated/diluted
3. VALUE (Luminance)
Degree of lightness or darkness of colors: tint(light)/shade(dark)
4. TEXTURE Appearance
of surfaces both represented (2D) or physical (3D): smooth/rough,
glossy/flat, undulating/jagged, and transparent/opaque.
5. SHAPE (2D) FORM
(3D) Area defined by lines, colors, values and textures: geometric/organic,
soft/hard and sharp/smooth.
6. SPACE Distance
or area between lines or shapes: deep/shallow, crowded/empty,
Principles - The construction method
1. UNITY Each element
in art work is necessary, none can be left out with out changing
the work significantly.
2. BALANCE Even
distribution/arrangement of elements in an art work.
3. DOMINANCE One
element is given more importance than other elements in an art
Use of an element(s) more than once in more than one way in an
5. RYTHYM Arrangement
in an art work of element(s) in an ordered sequence to create/suggest
6. CONTRAST Use
of opposite elements (see parings above) in close proximity.
Incremental changes in any element(s), especially a dominant element
in an art work.
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