Sports photography and 19th century Japanese Ukiyo-E woodblock prints influence Anju Dodiya's latest series.

Everything that has a beginning has an end. Whether it is trials and tribulations, sorrows or joys, all of it goes into making up what we know as our lives. In her latest show, ‘Room For Erasures’, artist Anju Dodiya seeks to capture the emotional drama and mental processes that one encounters while taking decisions that lead to sorrow or joy.

Anju says, “There’s a lot of making, erasing and remaking that goes on in the warp and weft of life. In this series, I have sought to recreate this drama, drawing influences from sports photography and 19th century Japanese Ukiyo-E woodblock prints whose depictions of Samurai figures accord the sense of intensity and movement that this work required.”

Created in watercolours and deriving inspiration from a variety of sources — historical, contemporary, esoteric and popular — the series also comprises digital prints that focus on the ephemeral nature of life. “We live such a momentary life. What happens today immediately goes into the bracket of ‘past’ tomorrow. The digital print sub-series is a distant detached observation of those moments captured for posterity to analyse how life changes.”

While the sub-series is a calm observation, the paintings have a sense of grandeur and hysteria to depict all those emotions we keep subdued in real life. Anju explains, “I’m a great observer of cinema and am fascinated by the hyperbole of emotions it uses to convey its message. In a civilised society, we tend to keep a strong check on our emotions. But that doesn’t mean that our emotions are indeed so tame.”

A keen observer of the Ukiyo-E work done by master artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Anju identifies with his usage of pale colours and fine lines, as much as she revels in the uneven bursts of the erotic and startling in the otherwise elegant, demure Japanese art. “The way in which Japanese art becomes theatrical in format, appeals a lot to my sensibilities that seek to uncover the patina of civilised subdued-ness to express the intense emotions that run through us all. My works seek to pass an emotional undercurrent in the viewer so that he/she identifies with the subtext and engages in a mental dialogue with the painting.”

True to its name, ‘Room For Erasures’ also comprises a self-image where she invites the viewers to ‘erase’ what they do not like. Indeed a courageous move for an artist. She says, “We’re all so self-absorbed and self-aware that we end up putting barriers around ourselves. Allowing others into that comfort zone was one way of breaking through that clutter and garnering the courage to see oneself in a new light; for, after all, what is life all about but creating and erasing?”

Room For Erasures

Where: Chemould Prescott Road, Queens Mansion, Fort, Mumbai

When: Till October 24