Cholamandal Artists’ Village has long been in my list of things to do in Chennai. It has been sending surreptitious glances at the list’s length and waiting for its turn for many months now. When I decided to visit it on a Sunday evening, I found myself in a very calm area with plenty of trees and tranquility.
A friend and I dutifully paid the entry fee of Rs. 20/- and entered the high walled exhibition hall 1. To our surprise, none of the contemporary paintings had a title or description to it. All excitement slowly drained away out of my body. Isn’t the primary purpose of art self-expression and conveying it to the masses?
The Village seemed to follow Francis Bacon’s words to a T – ” The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”
I asked the proprietor for a brochure on paintings. He said there were none and instead asked us to buy a book on the village for Rs.750/-. We must have looked pretty dumb, I guess, asking for a brochure of their gallery, when every visitor comes equipped with knowledge on every piece of art there? I don’t know…
We made the best of it. There were some paintings that really tugged my heart and would have owned it if I had that kind of money. Like The Blind Poet and Butterflies. What a captivating notion! That of a poet who brings forth his best imagination and shapes it into words but not being able to see one of the most beautiful creatures of the world. That sounds like poetry.
I signed their visitor book with a note on all this, purchased a Brass artwork of a dancing girl to show my general support for the artists and with that slight sadness that early demise of exuberance result in, we climbed down the steps of the gallery and hit the beach to wash it all away in tides of blue.