Born in 1964 at Kadirenigudem, a small village in Nalgonda District of Telangana, Laxman Aelay's artistic voyage reveals interesting facets. He, as a trained artist, embarked incorporating subjects from his native, cajoling, and beguiling with vibrant depictions of rural beauties that shape his own persona and professed his presence in the field of art. Before introducing himself as a prodigy to the mainstream art, he had earned name and fame working with popular media and engaged himself in contributing to the literary progressives with his drawings, illustrations, and book-cover designs. This being a major shift in his career, from a simple painter to a rational human being, Laxman traveled across Telangana searching for new inspirations that motivated him to take up doctoral research in the field of visual culture, which he successfully achieved from the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. The study conducted on oral and visual narrative tradition, a typical art form with an interdependent system, enabled him to shed light on people who created their own Kulapuranas (Caste-Myths), performed and disseminated ideologies of a specific community using folk and traditional art forms as mediums.
Laxman Aelay's recent artworks invite the viewer into a realm of myth. The present body of works that comprise of drawings both on canvas and on paper, testify an incredible artistic aptitude that he brings forth employing sinuous rendering that is typified with a blatant expressionistic treatment. The fine lines merge and submerge into the entwined masses of gradations as the deliberately altered black and white physiognomies, juxtaposed with other imaginary elements, narrate mysterious chronicles of the subaltern communities of Telangana. These chronicles neither belong to an unknown world nor make vested attempts to explicate the wonders of the universe. They are euphonic myths of wandering flag bearers of the vocational communities, who silently proclaim their identity. What Aelay perceives in the itinerant street performers is their ease with disquiet, the austerity with a tag of “impurity” and the subtlety in their pitches. The heightened songs, the mellowed modulations, and the underscored identifications of the mendicant performers manifest identity of a distinct culture foregrounding an unusual aesthetic trait of the “others.” The enthralling images embody a culture, its essence, and its undeniable claims narrating and divulging untold grand mythologies of untutored nomads.
Unlike his early paintings, the body of artworks presented in this show may be seen as a critique of his own ingenuous nostalgia. The poverty-stricken entities, strong beautiful women bedecked with ornaments, and the celebration of life, all are now replaced with tangible corporealities that reverberate in their existence. He consciously avoids polychromatic renditions and the highly toned pictorial spaces in order to draw a plain visual text for the viewers. He carefully adopts a blend of quasi-realistic and expressionistic approaches consolidating his nuances of practice and the mastery of draftsmanship.
When one takes a glance at Laxman's drawings, what comes to mind is the perfect blend of heavily treated tanned bodies and the camouflaging cubistic anthropomorphic forms spread across the compositions. By amalgamating these dichotomies, the artist attempts to bring in multiple narratives that are divorced from each other and abridge the widening gulf between old and new modes of dissemination. His choice of imagery is the multi-layered connotations in his drawings that evidently expose his predisposition towards radicalism, that is internalized while working with literary circles, as the underpinnings are conspicuously visible in his compositions. For instance, one of his drawings shows a group of Dalits playing 'dappu' in Gandhi-like attire contrasting the sunburnt bodies and an impressionistic image of fuming Ambedkar on the 'dappu'. What Laxman is trying to show here are the people of subaltern caste, who are envisioned as peaceful Gandhians as well as oppressed subjects with raised eyebrows.
He had enough of letting his paintings express someone else`s ideas and sentiments and decided to run to fine arts as a fulltime career. Awards and accolades have since flowed thick and fast, felicitation to frequent foreign trips to countless exhibitions to escalating prices to wide media coverage to popular appreciation – the last few years have been particularly rewarding for Laxman Aelay.
Some of the Awards and Rewards accomplished Laxman Aelay were:
• 1987: BRONZE MEDAL in the Painting Competition conducted by Amateur Artist Association, Nalgonda, Andhra Pradesh
• 1993: GOLD MEDAL in the Painting Competition conducted by Konaseema Chithrakala Parishath, Amalapuram, Andhra Pradesh
• 1995: Appreciation Award from Hyderabad Art Society Annual Painting Competition
He is also known for creating the new Telangana Logo, which was really unique in style in that it contains iconic imagery of the country as well as the state of Telangana.
2012: Solo show "Song of the Village 2", Alliance Francaise, Hyderabad.
2008: Solo show "The River Underneath" at India Fine Art, Mumbai
2006: Solo show "Moods and Colours" at Fida Art Gallery, Singapore
2005: Solo show "Song of the Village" at Apparao Galleries, Chennai
2004: Solo show "Drawing Show CHARISMATIC CONTOURS", Gallery Threshold, New Delhi
1999: Solo show "Images of Kadirenigudem" at I.C.C.R. Art Gallery, Hyderabad