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Conversations on a blackboard

mumbai Updated: Sep 15, 2011 02:01 IST
Riddhi Doshi

‘Bako Exists. Imagine’, a text-based show by artist Atul Dodiya, is on at Chemould Prescott Road till October 20.

On display are 12 paintings and nine installations. Each painting resembles a large blackboard, with lines from Ahmedabad-based poet Labhshanker Thaker’s 2004 poem ‘Bako Chhe. Kalpo (Bako Exists. Imagine)’ inscribed in oil and acrylic paint.

The poem tells the tale of Bako, a 12-year-old boy, who dreams he is having a conversation with Mahatma Gandhi. “The conversation is not about corruption,” smiles Dodiya. It’s not about the freedom struggle either. Rather, it deals with everyday life presented in a child-like, teasing manner.

Gandhi is one of Dodiya’s favourite subjects, one that he explores in this series through the carefully painted text and sketches scattered across the ‘boards’. The poetry was translated from Gujarati for the show by playwright Naushil Mehta and poet Arundhati Subramanian.“The idea of such an exhibition occurred to me five years ago, when I first read Thaker’s poem,” says Dodiya. “I began working on the project a year ago.” The installations, meanwhile, are autobiographical — a series of nine cabinets like those used in schools and colleges to house trophies, filled with the things Dodiya likes and photographs of his favourite artists.