Old house, new gallery
A 200-year-old bath house at the C.P. Art Centre, has been transformed into a gallery
In cheerful hues: at the Ganesha exhibition. Pic. by V. Ganesan
THE NEWLY opened The Art Gallery at the C.P. Art Centre is unique in many ways. An ancient steam-bath house in this 200-year-old building has been converted into an art gallery. "This being the 365th anniversary of the founding of Madras, I decided to dedicate the gallery this year," says Nandhitha Krishna, director, C.P. Art Centre.
The rectangular shaped room situated in the pinkattu or the rear portion of the house, had separate sections for men and women.
"While driving past the centre one day, I noticed that this portion of the house had a good frontage. I felt that this section should be put to best use and that is how the idea struck me, even though the bath house or veneerul, has been there for many years," says Nandhitha.
Old world charm
The veneerul literally means hot water room, and generally had a range of paraphernalia such as a huge andaa that sat on a brick stove fuelled by wood. A kangaalam and thavalai filled with water were also kept there.
"Those days people had a leisurely lifestyle. They had an elaborate bath that involved oil massage and a steam bath, followed by sambirani to dry hair."
"I have tried to retain the ambience by keeping all the utensils that were used in the veneerul. I have also displayed various oils and other bathing items such as manjal podi, payatham maavu, kadalai maavu, chandhanam, seeyakkai thool and sambirani."
While the bath house will now showcase paintings, the mitham and thaavaaram, wherein women dried their hair, rested and chatted before taking a short nap, has been converted into a permanent art gallery." In those days, the walls in this part of the house were adorned with paintings, she adds.
This section of the gallery houses tribal and folk art and a craft section comprising works of children with learning disabilities, and also products made by women's self-help groups.
There are terracotta and clay works, paintings by Kurumba tribes of Nilgiris [made of natural colours], pottery from Kota and various other works of art on display.
"The first exhibition is a collection of paintings on Lord Ganesha coinciding with Ganesh Chaturthi.
Artist Rajendran's works depict the elephant headed God in various poses playing golf, tennis, riding a bike and climbing a mango tree. His `Panchamukha Ganesh' and `Jolly Ganesha' are a riot of colour and imagination.
Shakthivel's realistic portrayal and the contemporary and abstract interpretations by Sridhar, Bhaskar and Alagesan show how Ganesha can lend himself so well to such artistic and imaginative portrayal.
Also on display are collages and post-card paintings. The price of paintings ranges from Rs.150 to Rs. 15,000.
The exhibition in on till September 30, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at No.1, Eldams Road, ph: 24341778.
A. CHITRAA DEEPA
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