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Colours of compassion

An exhibition of paintings, sculptures and drawings at the Cholamandal Artists' Village is on till February 28, and is well worth a visit for art lovers.

THE CHOLAMANDAL Artists' Village is commemorating the 36th year of its existence

with an art exhibition. Started in 1965, Cholamandal is undeniably a commendable achievement for it is unique in being the only successful artists' village in the world. The concept of artists living and working together as part of a co-operative society, although initially difficult, has been brought to fruition. Today it is entirely self-sufficient and forms a spirited enclave of creativity in Chennai. The remarkable quality of work on display at the exhibition speaks much about how the community has matured, with the artists finding their individuality and personal style.

The exhibition comprises the work of resident artists, invitees and students. It is certainly a pleasure to view art in such an inspired atmosphere for the very ambiance spells creativity. The Progressive Painters' Association held a Young Painters camp on the premises from February 16 to 18, where the artists could be observed at work. The paintings and sculptures are of singularly high quality.

Akkitham Narayanan's small format squares in pleasing greens and yellows contrast with Asma Menon's brilliantly coloured works. The flat planes of vibrant colours in Gopinath's paintings interestingly draw the viewer within and provide an ambiguous impression of the spatial element. Vasudev's `Vriksha' series, painted in muted colours and bold strokes, reveals attractive motifs drawn from nature. Venkatapathy's `Totem' series is comparatively different from the other works mainly in terms of form. A watercolour by Viswanathan, with its faded blotched colours seems rather mundane redeemed only by the artist's signature.

The bronzes of birds and fish by Anila Jacob consist of intricately worked yet open forms that are predominantly textural. They are complemented by the exquisitely enamelled bronzes of Nandagopal's signature style. Dimpy Menon's bronzes are small in size yet large in spirit. Her subjects are intimately handled. Pancha Mugha by Nandhan creates an interesting variation by the play of rough mottled grey granite against smooth polished black stone while the works ofRichard Jesudoss combine stone and bronze for their tactile appeal.

Rajasekaran Nair's well-conceived powerful sculpture portrays heads emerging from virgin rock. Cloaked in reticence the work is split in the centre with the heads coming together yet separated, being at once similar and different.

The influence of the styles of older artists is discernable in the works of some of the younger artists. In the work of Saravanan, the influence of his father, Senathipathi, is evident in the fine tracery of lines seen on the faces, while Shailesh's `God in Me' seems to recall the grey figures in the characteristic mixed media paintings by Douglas.

This year the exhibition is not only about the tranquillity and serenity of an artists' village where the artists live in a utopia unencumbered by the chaos of city life. It is being hosted with the objective of helping the PFA (People for Animals), a voluntary organisation, whose mission is to curtail the illegal interstate trafficking of cattle. These volunteers dedicate their lives, time and effort to save pregnant cows, calves, old and blind bulls that have their limbs broken, eyes gored and are beaten till fatigue kills them during the torturous journey to the slaughter houses of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Forty per cent of the sale proceeds will go to the PFA to be used for building cow shelters to accommodate the cattle confiscated by the police.

The exhibition of paintings, sculptures and drawings is well worth a visit for both art lovers and collectors and will remain open to the public until February 28.


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