ART The small format works of 25 artists and sculptors on show at Cholamandal Artists’ Village aim at encouraging youngsters to appreciate and acquire art

The artistically-inclined youth of the country do not seem to have many options. To experience art, they have to visit galleries and museums or browse through art magazines. But to acquire pieces of art, they will have to wait because, let’s face it, art is expensive. The Cholamandal Artists’ Village show, Contemporary Small Format Exhibition, featuring painting and sculpture, holds out a promise which, if realised, could break the vicious circle that ends up hurting artists, besides coming in the way of young collectors’ ambitions.

To see and own

“All the works exhibited here are by artists who live in the village or have stayed here for workshops,” says S. Nandagopal of Cholamandal Artists’ Village. Works of close to 25 artists and sculptors, priced from Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 1.5 lakh, are on display. “We want to give young collectors a chance to own a piece of art,” Nandagopal explains, showing us around. Small paintings dot the walls, with a sprinkling of sculptures by names old and new. These small works are on view in the gallery at the Cholamandal Centre for Contemporary Art, with larger canvases overlooking them. The latter are from the K.C.S. Paniker Museum of the Madras Movement that houses the works of the masters who were instrumental in creating works of immense value between the 40s and 70s.

“I have seen in the West, parents gift Museum cards to children as young as eight so they can experience art. When you grow up like that art becomes an integral part of your persona,” Nandagopal says. When Nandagopal first started displaying his works three decades ago, they would sell for Rs. 15. Today, art does not come easily. “We hope that through these exhibitions we can inspire young artists as well as patrons.” The village first conducted a Miniature Format Show in 1971 in Pune and later, in Chennai and Mumbai. On the objective of such shows, an excerpt from the brochure first published in 1972 says, “Small-sized pictures and sculptures, if priced low, can reach a larger art-loving public and eventually help create a genuine boom in art. Art is certainly not for the rich alone. It is no luxury but a dire necessity for large numbers of people.” We chance upon one of the artists at the gallery, G. Latha, whose six canvases brim with meaning. They speak about the state of women, almost pale sketches of faces set in a backdrop of vibrant colours. “I have depicted women of different age groups in these paintings. Our wants are insatiable and grow with time, but true joy lies in sharing,” she says, explaining her works. The show also offers young artists like Latha a chance to exhibit alongside prestigious names such as C. Douglas, whose paintings are a statement on the human condition, Nandagopal’s sculptures, some of which have already been sold, senior artist Venkatapathy’s mythological creations and P. Gopinath’s colourful canvases among others.

Contemporary Small Format Exhibition is on at Cholamandal Artists’ Village, Injambakkam, till April 7.