Laxman Aelay is a prominent and widely acclaimed artist from Telangana. Much loved for his paintings, largely inspired by the rustic essence and the simplistic lifestyle of the rural folk, he was recently awarded a doctorate for his research on the visual culture of Telangana. This accomplishment brings forth yet another aspect of Laxman’s talent.
When asked about the trigger to delve deep into a serious and extended research, he explains, “Few years back, I came across a scroll of Markandeya from the 16th century; that intrigued me extensively. I felt a strong impulse to know more about the tradition and that is where the journey began.”
The artist adds, “My research centres on the patamkatha tradition, which beautifully amalgamates storytelling and painted scrolls. This oral, visual and narrative performance is one of the examples of South Indian traditions. The study discusses how this art form was performed, circulated and survived with a distinctive form, style and function. In order to understand these aspects, I have selected one specific painted scroll — the scroll of Markandeya Kula Puranam, narrated to the Padmasalis (weavers caste). This was the oldest scroll found during the research. My thesis exemplifies how the visual and oral narrations commonly assert an individual or collective cultural identity when the stories are told to a particular community and observes how the caste or sub-caste is endorsed by divine powers.”
Notably, Laxman has always stayed connected to his roots and has sought inspiration from his own surroundings, including people, for his creative work. Through this research too, he has taken up the responsibility to bring forth the beauty and awareness about a fading art tradition from his region. Laxman’s intense passion and dedication for the diminishing art form has not only inspired him to gather a complete, thorough knowledge of the subject, but it has also proved to be an extension of his work as an artist.
Laxman is making a series of artworks that are reinterpretations of the Markandeya Puran. Divulging a few details, he says, “These are paper works and have very intricate renderings. I have incorporated a few motifs from the traditional story and amalgamated them with my style and visual diction. I feel content for being able to connect my work to the very core of my cultural roots. My works are a tribute to my beloved motherland, and if through my work I am able to spread word about our rich heritage, I will consider myself fortunate and blessed.”