Cholamandal Artists’ Village

 

CHOLAMANDAL ARTISTS VILLAGE

Chennai, Tamil Nadu- 1966

Cholamandal Artists’ Village was founded in 1966 by a group of artists associated with the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Madras. As the Principal of the institution, K.C.S.Paniker founded the Artists Handicraft Association, a platform for artists to make and sell handicrafts and thus sustain themselves at a time when patronage of contemporary art was almost non-existent. From this grew the Cholamandal Artists’ Village, a commune where artists could live and work as a community. The location of the Village, on the route connecting Madras and the ancient heritage site of Mahabalipuram, was in every way ideal. It was on the seaside, neither too close nor too far from the city. Here artists were free to pursue their artistic dreams while devoting a portion of their time to making handicrafts that would fund their living and art-making. Some of the notable names associated with Village, apart from K.C.S.Paniker, are J. Sultan Ali, K.Ramanujam, K.M. Vasudevan Namboodri, M.V. Devan, K.M. Gopal, S.P. Jayakar, S. Kanniappan, M. Redappa Naidu, D. Venkatapathy, K.V. Haridasan, K. Jayapal Panicker, K. Kunhiraman, K.S. Gopal, M.Senathipathi, Richard Jesudass, P.S. Nandhan, V. Viswanadhan, S.G. Vasudev, Anila Jacob, K.R. Harie, S.Paramasivam, V. Arnawaz, S. Nandagopal, P. Gopinath and C.Douglas. The initial years were a struggle for the artists as they grappled with basic issues such as lack of transport and electricity. However, these aspects were offset by the dynamic interaction between artists and different disciplines of art that Cholamandal made possible. Time changed the nature of the space as some artists moved out and others moved in. Buildings such as a space for holding residencies, the K.C.S. Paniker Museum of Madras Movement and commercial galleries have also been added in recent times, thereby contributing to the evolution of Cholamandal as an important institution of art.