Cholamandal - Where art lives and thrives
Cholamandal or Cholamandalam, the realm of the Cholas, is the etymological root of ‘Coromandel’ - a corruption attributed to the Portuguese, the first European power to colonize the east coast of India. The name rings true at the Cholamandal Artists Village, the largest artists’ commune in India, which preserves the essence of the Madras Movement of Art spearheaded by artist K C S Paniker from the 1950s until his death in 1977. Principal of the Madras School of Arts, Coimbatore-born Kovalezhi Cheerampathoor Sankaran Paniker was educated in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He took to painting as early as age 12 and his paintings were inspired by the landscapes of Ponnani, a village near the Malabar Coast. In the 1950s, his career sparkled with paintings such as the famous watercolour, Christ and Lazarus. His later works were strongly infused with inspirations from calligraphy and geometry. A year before his death, he was honoured by the Lalit Kala Akademi, India's national academy of fine art, as the Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi for his life's contribution to art.
Situated at Injambakkam, 9 km south of Chennai, the Cholamandal Artists Village is a unique residential community of artists. The Cholamandal Centre for Contemporary Art, a permanent exhibition of artists of the 'Madras Movement', is displayed at the two wings of the K C S Paniker Museum and is surrounded by an international sculpture garden.
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