A VILLAGE OF ARTISTS
Though the Cholamandal Artists’ Village is no longer a place of bucolic charm, its Bohemian spirit still survives
The Cholamandal Artists’ Village, on the outskirts of Chennai, is celebrating its 50th year anniversary with an exhibition of paintings and sculptures from the largely forgotten Madras Movement, begun in the late 1950s. Spearheaded by the late K.C.S. Paniker, who also founded the artists’ village, the regional art movement consisted of students from the Madras School of Arts & Crafts, where Paniker was principal, and led to the discovery of “new premises for contemporary Indian art”, according to art historian Josef James. Opened February 6 and running through March 20, the exhibition chronicles the 50-year desi Bohemia created in 1966 by artists including K.M. Adimoolam, V. Viswanadhan, C. Dakishnamoorthy and K. Jayapala Paniker. “The idea was to create awareness about the movement and about the village,” explains M. Senathipathi, president of the Cholamandal Artists’ Village.
When the village first came up, the artists built their own huts with thatch and bamboo, surviving without electricity and little food. But they were fired by Paniker’s exhortation to be open to western art while drawing sustenance from tradition. Today, that rustic appeal has disappeared from the bustling village of concrete houses. The latest addition is the Cholamandal Cultural Centre, with studios and apartments for visiting artists, a gallery of contemporary art, and a gallery that artists can rent. Bohemia still, but with a gentle corporate face.
The K.C.S. Paniker Museum of the Madras Movement REMEMBER THE