Chennai is one of India’s preferred destinations for cultural tourism and boasts a great tradition and patronage for the performing arts. However, while art forms of all kinds have flourished and been appreciated historically in this city, recent years have seen Chennai take to another relatively modern form of art appreciation through the setting up of several new art galleries.
Apparao Art Gallery
Founded in 1984 by Sharan Apparao, one of the biggest names today in Chennai’s art scene, this gallery is one of the oldest private art galleries in Chennai. This contemporary art gallery remains one of the most popular venues for budding artists from the city to exhibit their work and regularly draws some of the best talents in the art scene from across the country. Located at the center of the city in Nungambakkam, the gallery is also one of the most popular haunts for art enthusiasts.
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Lalit Kala Akademi
The Lalit Kala Akademi or the National Academy of Art is India’s premier institution for fine arts, run by the Ministry of Culture, GOI. And its regional center in Chennai is not only one of the best institutes for studying and advancement of the discipline, but is also the go-to place for everything related to art in the city. From regular exhibitions to high-level workshops on various forms of traditional and modern art, the Akademi’s campus is a flourishing example of Chennai’s art scene and counts among its patrons some of the best-known artists in the country.
Focus Art Gallery
Known for its distinctly modern disposition, this art gallery in Alwarpet is a preferred destination for anyone interested in varied forms of contemporary art. From the works of acclaimed international artists to quirky exhibitions on object arts, this gallery has hosted some of the best examples of innovation in art.
Cholamandalam Artists’ Village
Located along the scenic East Coast Road within city limits, this artists’ commune is single-handedly credited with fostering the Madras Art Movement (1950-80) that gave birth to modernism in Chennai’s art culture. Founded in 1966 by pioneering artist KCS Paniker, the then Principal of the Madras School of Arts, this establishment is not only the largest such commune but also one of the oldest of its kind in the country. Apart from the chance to see an enviable collection of artworks, a visit to this venue lets guests be part of Chennai’s modern art history.
The Faraway Tree Art Gallery
Focussing on contemporary Indian art, The Faraway Tree Gallery in Chennai boasts one of the best inventories of local art in the region. Artworks by popular artists from South India and all over the country have called this gallery home, as part of numerous exhibitions over the years. Some of the regularly displayed artworks on display include works from Gopinath P, Keiko Mima, Akmal Husain, famous abstract painter KM Adimoolam and more.
Forum Art Gallery
Founded by artist Shalini Biswajit in 1997, this gallery in Adyar is known for a rich and varied collection of contemporary art forms. Ranging from paintings and sculptures to ceramic, cartoon art and even photography, this gallery is also one of the few venues in the city that regularly facilitate digital art installations. Apart from art, the gallery is also one of Chennai’s best-known venues for performance arts, with several big names, ranging from musician Sikkil Gurucharan to dancer Anita Ratnam, having performed here.
With a rich collection of artworks ranging from traditional paintings to ceramic arts and exquisite sculptures, DakshinaChitra is one of Chennai’s best destinations for understanding South India’s rich artistic heritage. Accumulated from the four (now five) major states of South India, these artworks on display at DakshinaChitra are a gateway to a bygone era in this country’s history. Apart from being a repository for relics of traditional arts, this establishment also conducts various workshops and residency programmes.
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