A visit to the village is a lesson in the history of the region’s contemporary art in itself. Cholamandal Artist Village was set up in 1966 in Injambakkam, founded by the then-principal of the Madras School of Arts, KCS Paniker. The gallery was the brainchild of this visionary artist, and slowly became a well-recognised centre of art globally. Thirty-eight artists came together to live in the same premises and work on their art, and also made handicrafts to sustain themselves.
Cholamandal Artist Village is a self-supporting artists’ commune spread over ten acres of land. Its resident artists were credited with founding the Madras Movement of Art between the1950s and1980s. Even today, the resident artists run the Artists Handicrafts Association, a cooperative which looks after the village and overlook the sales here. They do this by showcasing painting, sketches and sculptures of wood, metal, stone, terracotta, handicrafts, batik, pottery, ceramics, etc. in a permanent exhibition within the complex.
You can enter Cholamandal Artist Village at a fee of INR 20. You will be greeted with its majestic Banyan tree and its main building of an exposed brick wall. Walkthrough the sculpture garden installed with works of internationally acclaimed artists. Two wings of the KCS Paniker Museum also showcase personal contributions from artists of the ‘Madras Movement’. There are also two commercial galleries, Laburnum and Indigo, where art is displayed for sale. Apart from this, you can spend time browsing through the art bookshop and the craft shop, or simply walk through the commune to get a sense of the people who pioneered a self-sustaining haven of art half a century ago.