An autonomous institute of culture functioning under the State Department of Culture.
The academy was set up in the year 1962, at Thrissur district, for the preservation and development of Kerala’s fine arts. The first chairman of the academy was M Raja Varma Raja, son of internationally acclaimed painter Raja Ravi Varma. The academy aims to promote fine arts such as painting, sculpture, photography, graphics, and cartooning.
The head quarters at Thrissur was designed by well-known architect, Laurie Baker. The academy has art galleries in various places around the State including Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Kodungalloor, Nedumbassery, Malampuzha, Malappuram, Calicut, Thalassery, Kanjangadu and Mananthavaadi.
From the year 1962 till 1997, the academy conducted a number of national camps in various places including Ezhimala, Veli, Ponmudi, Pulikkunnu and Kasargode. Many prominent figures in the history of Indian art, including Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh, Santhana Raj, K. K. Hebbar, D. L. N. Reddy, Reddappa Naidu, Sudheer Patwardhan, Paramjit Singh, A. Ramachandran, S. G. Vasudev, Arpana Kaur, Manu Parekh, R.B. Bhaskaran, Prabhakar Kolte, Jayaram Patel, Rupen Khakkar, Surendran Nair and C. Douglas, have attended these camps and the work that they produced is now part of the academy’s collection. The academy also houses one of the paintings of acclaimed painter K. C. S. Panikker’s Poonthottam (Garden) series and most of the paintings of another maestro, the late T. K. Padmini.
The academy has brought out publications on the works of selected artists. Other publications include the monthly bulletin Chitravaartha and a quarterly of the same name.
At their headquarters in Thrissur, the academy has its own archives as well as a documentation centre. Projects in the offing include a handicraft centre of international standards to be located at Chengannur, a ‘digital arts village’ at Anakkara Kumbidi, a cultural centre featuring the works of Raja Ravi Varma at Kilimaanoor, an arts village at Kakkanapuram in Srikandapuram, located in the district of Kannur, and a cartoon museum at Kayamkulam.
Every year, the academy awards various fellowships and awards. They include an award for architectural design instituted in the name of world-renowned architect Laurie Baker and another in the name of J Swaminathan awarded for notable work in the field of tribal and folk arts and crafts. The academy also bestows various other prizes including state awards, as well as the Sonabhai Rajwar Prize, the K. C. S. Panikkar Prize and the Padmini Prize.
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