Personal relics also allow great possibilities for fiction: Artist Biraaj Dodiya

Over the last year-and-a-half, as our minds constantly made distinctions between the comfortable and the dangerous – artist Biraaj Dodiya became conceptually interested in exploring this.

“I tend to collect materials over time – discarded objects, industrial material, personal relics, studio detritus; all these eventually come together in the final making of my work. For this group of works, I was thinking about tactility; about what everyday objects transform into with time, age and touch,” she tells IANS about her works in the group exhibition ‘The (Pro)Found Object’ running at the Vadehra Art Gallery in the national capital (August 25-September 24).

The artist, who debuted last year with the solo ‘Stone Is A Forehead’ (reference to a part of the poem ‘Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias’ by Lorca), is the daughter of major contemporary artists Atul and Anju Dodiya.

“It was wonderful to grow up with artist parents. It gave me a sense of what it meant to truly practice creative freedom, work persistently, and then share it with the world,” she says.

Recalling her time at the Art Institute in Chicago and New York University, Dodiya says she loved the interdisciplinary nature of both the art schools.

“I met incredible teachers, some great friends and made a lot of work. It was a time when I figured myself out, and also an opportunity to see some of the most contemporary art from around the world,” she says.

Adding that during her time there, she was not bound to any particular medium, Dodiya hopes to carry this sense of freedom into her current practice.

“At the moment, I am drawn to spending more time painting and have been working on sculptural objects intermittently,” she says.

For someone in whose works personal memory assumes significant importance, what we remember, how we recall events and the significance that objects and images take on over time, interest her immensely.

“Personal relics and found objects signify one’s personal history, but also allow great possibilities for fiction,” she says.

With ancient sarcophagi, Pahari miniature paintings, the clothing of monks and mourners, athleticism, first-aid bandaging, domestic jury-rigging, childhood memorabilia, 15th century Italian painting, and world cinema being some of the things that influence her at the moment, Dodiya is usually at her studio from 11 am to 8 pm.

“The time is primarily spent working on paintings or sculptural work, with breaks to write, look at books or draw. Snacks and music are an important part of the studio day too,” she says.

The lockdowns meant a lot of quiet time, either working in the studio or being home amongst books and cinema.

“I feel very grateful to have been home with my family during the last year. The news from around the world was painful; one feels lucky to be alive and healthy,” she says.