MUSIC OF COLOURS AND TEXTURES: RECENT WORKS OF JACOB JEBARAJ
By DR. ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT, Chennai - September 2007
On a balmy August afternoon, Cholamandal Artists Village, situated on the East Coast Road, leading towards the historical site of Mamallapuram, was swathed in a blanket of calm stillness with insects humming among foliage and flowers to the accompaniment of the gentle breeze whispering through trees. The frothy breakers on the beach were faintly audible, the silence broken by the occasional whine or barking of the dog sensing the presence of a stranger. The ambient tranquility of the humid afternoon was overwhelming, as I trudged the muddy and dusty path that led towards the bluish grey metal repousse gate of the artist Jacob Jebaraj’s studio cum residence.
The serenity enveloping the village today perhaps has another story to tell. But the first generation of artists who started their artistic careers in the 60s, their journey was fraught with economic and artistic struggles, living within eight and quarter acres of land bought from the sale of handicrafts. It was the dream of K.C.S. Paniker, the founding visionary of the concept of the artists’ commune, for artists to live together sharing ideas and visions at Cholamandal Artists Village. The senior artists residing here, fought their battles valiantly against the ignorance and incomprehension of their visual language, by the public, because of the latter’s predilection with music and dance that was given a privileged status. Today these stalwarts stand tall providing inspiration to the second generation of artists whose voices could now be heard with equanimity. Jacob is the second generation artist, his father W. Richard was a student of K.C.S. Paniker and later a teacher at the Government College of Fine Arts, who retired as a sculptor.