A few weeks ago Brianna and I were wandering about in the vicinity of Gandhi Nagar in Adyar (Chennai) in search of a bookstore and/or ice cream, when we passed a sign for Sunny Sistems, The Gallery. I started to pass by the residential-type building in pursuit of our mission. But, curious, and thinking it could be a good place to ask directions, we turned back.
I’m so glad we did. The warm greeting of co-owner Neelam Dhanda and the sight of her treasures enticed us past the entrance into the inner rooms, even wiping away our visions of ice cream.
Neelam was kind enough to show us around and acquaint us with her business. She and her husband, Ravi, launched it in 1996 but didn’t open the gallery until 2001. Much of their business takes the form of custom installations for private and commercial clients. For instance, they have placed a total of thirty-seven murals at the Chennai airport alone.
Neelam said that neither she nor Ravi is an artist, but they work with many artisans and craftsmen. “We conceptualize and we supervise and we get the job done.”
Recognizing that not all artists are equally gifted in business, I can imagine it must be helpful for both customer and craftsman to have a business like Sunny Sistems acting as mediator. And even if Neelam and Ravi are not trained artists, they must possess a highly developed artistic sense. They clearly have a satisfied clientele, to have prospered in a field in which success is so notoriously elusive.
The Sunny Sistems gallery is located at:
Door No. 58(GF), 2nd Main Road
Gandhi Nagar, Adyar
Chennai – 600 020
Here are just a few examples of the paintings, sculptures, handicrafts, and other works of art with which it overflows:
The light and color in these paintings were particularly eye-catching:
This appealing pen-and-ink drawing of an Indian shepherd is by an artist from the South Indian state of Karnataka, to the northwest of Tamil Nadu.
These iron figures from the central state of Chhattisgarh vary in height from a few inches to several feet:
Leather work from the former French colony of Pondicherry, about 100 miles south of Chennai:
A variety of Hindu images …
and a crucifixion scene by local artist Aardee.
The two carved elephants in the center, below, are from Chennai.
Assorted works of art, inanimate and otherwise:
You might find some of these Persian miniature-style elephant paintings on silk at the Book Nest next month.
I had a hard time tearing Brianna away from her study of this carved piece:
This painting prompted me to say, “Look, Brie! This is just like the paintings in the banquet hall at the hotel.”
The similarity was not a coincidence. When I told Neelam we were staying at the Radisson Blu near the airport, she told us that Sunny Sistems provided much of the art for the hotel’s recent remodel, including the paintings of flowers in our hotel room, the miniature below (and others like it) in the banquet hall …
and these horses in the lobby restaurant, on transparent leather.
The art, the company, and the purchasing of elephants caused us to linger much longer than the few minutes we intended to stop in. Before we left, Neelam directed us to the Odyssey bookstore a short walk away (more about that later). Brianna’s 5 p.m. Bollywood dance class was fast approaching, but we managed to squeeze in a peek at the bookstore and a fudge brownie sundae at Café Coffee Day. It all made for a thoroughly pleasant afternoon (aside from wandering around in the afternoon heat).
Thank you, Neelam, for a rewarding art-filled interlude.
If you don’t have time to stop in, you can contact Neelam or Ravi at:
91-44-2442 6415 / 4260 7211
(Speaking of the Radisson and art, check back later for a post on the series of paintings of Indian village life in our hallway. We learned a fair amount from studying them and querying the passing housekeeping staff.)