The new gallery at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram pays tribute to Ailamma and the peasants’ struggle

A flight of stairs leads visitors into a spacious hall, now transformed into an art gallery named after Chityala Ailamma, more recognised as Chakali Ailamma. History has it that the gutsy woman from Palakurty, Nalgonda district, refused to bow down to feudal landlords bent on occupying her piece of land. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the region was still under the Nizam rule, Ailamma became an inspiration for many other peasants struggling to resist the might of the landlords.

The newly-opened Ailamma art gallery at the sprawling Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, Bagh Lingampalli, is a new addition to the city’s art map. While many galleries have sprung up in and around Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills, the Ailamma gallery hopes to plug the yawning gap in the lack of space to promote art in Bagh Lingampalli and its surroundings.

“We hope to conduct periodic exhibitions here. We also have a larger hall in the basement and are working towards opening up that space for art and related activities. We plan to host travelling exhibitions from other states as well,” says the gallery director Vijay Rao Gudipudi.

The Ailamma gallery has been designed by calligraphy artist Parameshwar Raju. The gallery is bathed in shades of white, is minimal and barring the focus lamps there is little else that fights for attention with the art works on display.

Genesis of Memorabilia, the first exhibition at the gallery, showcases works of 25 artists, subtly conveying the spirit of freedom that Ailamma stood for. Curated by Koeli Mukherjee, the exhibition features primarily figurative paintings on media as varied as charcoal to watercolours and acrylic to woodcut. Sayyad Shaik and Bhaskar Rao focus on landscapes, Karen Rampel draws our attention to the Indian working class, A. Sridhar discusses relationships, Nirmala Biluka and Anand Gadapa talk about women and Anand Shastry sets mythology in a contemporary context with a majestic painting of Hanuman in Narsingi.

The exhibition is on view till October 24; 12 noon to 8 p.m.