Cholamandal artists village
Cholamandal Artists’ Village, established in 1966, is the largest artists’ commune in India, whose artists are credited for the Madras Movement of Art (1950s–1980s), which brought modernism to art in South India. Their work is widely recognized as some of the best art produced in postwar India, and is shown regularly in galleries across the country; in fact several Cholamandal artists have also shown in Europe, the United States and South America. Situated at village Injambakkam, 9 km from Chennai, India, it has over twenty resident painters and sculptors, who live as a community and pool their skills; they also run the Artists Handicrafts Association, a cooperative which manages the village and sale of works through the permanent exhibition at the complex, which includes paintings, sketches, terra-cotta/stone/metal sculptures, batiks and handicrafts etc., made by the artists living the village, making the village a self-supporting entity. The community was founded by K. C. S. Paniker, the principal of the Madras School of Arts, along with his students and a few artists associated with the college. It used the `art-meets-craft’ approach where artists made handicrafts for a living even as they pursued their art. By the 1970s, the village became self-sufficient, and grew into one of the most important meeting places for international artists in India, and today, it remains one of the few artist-driven movements in India. Four decades on, it is one of the few artists’ colonies in the world to survive successfully and its foundation remains one of the “10 biggest art moments” in India.
I was deep in thought, writing, actually typing, for my next blog having difficulty in focusing what I was doing. I took a break, had a tea, opened up the mobile browser (Yes, if I close the laptop, I’ll open up the mobile and vice versa) and started looking for random stuffs without even knowing what to look. Then it struck! I actually saw a modern art painting, the painting made me to research more about it, and some random pages, then I was made to visit the Cholamandal Artists Village website like people in ranganathan street, T.nagar, would take you to your destination (even beyond) automatically. I kicked myself thinking how could I forget this place since I was planning to visit this place from my college times.
Finally, visited this place on Sunday (Today morning), although I had slight difficulty in navigating to the place, thanks to my friends mobile, the google maps had turned upside down and I was terrified to see the marker move backwards. Its actually right on the road, so you cant miss it. Before going, since I had another appointment in the evening I had plans to wrap up the visit in 3-4 hours. I was thinking of those soulful trees, stimulating paintings and sprawling acres of lush green. Thinking this, I reached the place and found the place to be deserted, parked the car (Good spacious parking actually) and we went in.
We bought the entry ticket for Rs.20 each and went in. Here comes the big disappointment ! Photography is not allowed inside the gallery ! I was really disappointed since I had great plans to photograph the paintings and to research/write about it here, but it was my bad, I should’ve confirmed with them prior to visiting them through email or phone. But I couldn’t remember If I saw this in their website. I also had plans to speak with some of the artists who live nearby and contribute to this artists village, but I couldn’t find anyone.
But, boy o boy, the moment I entered the painting hall, I was mesmerized or I should say, hypnotized. Have you ever felt a sudden feeling of calmness or in a state of ecstasy after a stressful events? Yes, I was in divine calmness, soaking all in, forgot about the camera thing. Infact its a blessing in disguise, If I had photographed, I would’ve concentrated more on shot angles than experiencing the art. Mean while, my friend was scratching his head, looking outside. That’s the catch here, If you have the flair for art and artistic things or If you could appreciate, you’d feel like you’re in heaven. if not, you’ll get bored easily.
There were abstract paintings, expressionism, modern art, sculptures made with copper and brass, stone and cement. I was finding it difficult to wrap my mind around on some paintings since i couldn’t find any emotion/message the artist is trying to convey. Long way to go, I thought to myself. There are 2 painting galleries, one is for Mr.Panicker, who is the founding father of this village, and his students work, another gallery showcasing various artists works. They also sell the paintings, hand made sculptures there. It was quite interesting and would make an excellent deco art piece in our homes.
The stone sculptures were laid outside and I heard someone asking why the stone sculptures has not been maintained, since it had algae/watermarks/bird droppings. But to me, It made perfect sense. It wasn’t meant to be maintained after all, It exists in its raw nature belonging to mother nature!
Next time, I reminded myself to email the management for prior permission to photograph the paintings, although the curator said that its impossible to do so. lets see, how it goes, If possible I could speak with an artist hopefully and can showcase his creations here, fingers crossed. At the end of the day, It was an overwhelming experience that’s here to stay. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did, until then, Adios !!
Cholamandal artists village – If you’d like to go and visit this place and want to photograph the paintings, make sure you contact here. And if you had managed to get the permission, please let me know in the comment section!