TAMIL NADU

A museum which speaks volumes for artists’ ardour

Inspiring art: Andrew Simkin, U.S. Consul General in Chennai, takes a look at one of displays at the Cholamandal Artists’ Village in Chennai on Sunday. P.M. Belliappa, retired IAS officer, is also in the picture.

Inspiring art: Andrew Simkin, U.S. Consul General in Chennai, takes a look at one of displays at the Cholamandal Artists’ Village in Chennai on Sunday. P.M. Belliappa, retired IAS officer, is also in the picture.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: N.SRIDHARAN

Sruthi Krishnan

‘Madras Movement’ artists’ works being showcased at Cholamandal Centre for Contemporary Art

CHENNAI: “There was only a mud road from Adyar to Muttukkadu,” said artist V. Viswanadhan, describing a journey forty years ago. With faces streaked with dust and sweat, two artists carried bamboo and thatches to a vacant plot to sculpt a dream. We know of it today as the Cholamandal Artists’ Village.

This creative space witnessed art that was “Indian in sprit and worldwide contemporary,” as its guiding force K.C.S. Paniker had dreamt of it.

Many artists from the Village contributed to the ‘Madras Movement,’ a distinctive body of art between the early 40s and early 90s, said S. Nandagopal, secretary, Cholamandal Artists’ Village. Works by artists who characterised this Movement have been showcased at the Cholamandal Centre for Contemporary Art, which was inaugurated here on Sunday.

The collection includes ‘Genesis,’ a 1958 creation by Mr. Paniker, and his ‘Haunted House,’ a rare piece from 1942 in water colours.

“This is the first museum of its kind,” said Mr. Nandagopal. Created by the artists themselves, with donations coming from the fraternity, this initiative is unlike any other in the country.

Andrew Simkin, U.S. Consul-General in Chennai, said that the Centre could become a space for international communication, where artists from other countries could participate. It is close to the sea, which is “a concrete manifestation of looking outward to the external,” he said.

The Artists’ Village enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the sea in 1966, when it was established. “On the road from Adyar, the sea was to your left and the Buckingham canal was to your right,” reminisced Mr. Viswanadhan.

It is not just the landscape that has undergone a transformation today.

“At that time if you said you are an artist, you were treated worse than a street dog,” he said. In such times, Mr. Paniker wanted a safe haven for his students.

“He was a painter, who earned his living by teaching,” said Mr. Viswanadhan.

Driven by the idea that “if the artists had a place of their own, they will be respected,” Mr. Paniker set about establishing the Artists’ Village.

“It was a great experience to build something that is great. Now, the shape it has taken is greater,” said Mr. Viswanadhan.

Apart from the K.C.S. Paniker Museum which hosts the artwork of the Madras Movement, the Centre has two commercial galleries, an art book shop, a craft shop and a cafeteria with Iranian and Mediterranean cuisine.

N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, P.M. Belliappa, retired IAS officer, M. Senathipathy, president, Cholamandal Artists’ Village, artist M.V. Devan and artist S.G. Vasudev were among those who participated in the function.

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