Priyanka Aelay is all set to hold her solo debut exhibition

At the age of five, Priyanka Aelay would sit next to her dad Laxman Aelay and watch him breathe life into the village scenes. When she was ready to hold a pencil, she remembers doing kiddie family portraits with arrow marks showing “mom, dad, me and my sister”. Observing the big bottus on the women’s forehead, white dhoti-clad village men and the rural scenes on her dad’s canvas which she grew up observing, influenced her to some extent but she didn’t encourage that to become her identity.

In fact, Priyanka wasn’t supposed to follow her artist dad’s footsteps in the first place. She was groomed to pursue medicine, much against her wishes. “Till my Std. XII I studied science but finally when it came to choosing medicine, I opted out. No one was shocked as I had been very vocal about my preference,” says Priyanka.

When Priyanka was pursuing her bachelor’s art she realised her works had a distinct Laxman Aelay stamp. “It was as if I was continuing what my dad painted. Slowly and consciously I took to painting and drawing my thoughts as it poured out. I reasoned out with myself on dad’s work. His work is a reflection of what he grew up watching. The village environment in which he grew up was reflected in his work, whereas I didn’t grow up in a similar environment,” says the artist.

It was when Priyanka put her thoughts together that she discovered the contemporary artist in her. “Urban life with urban influences suited me best. That’s how I reworked on my canvases,” she explains.

Priyanka will be holding her debut solo art exhibition at Kalakriti Art Gallery, a show she worked on for two years. Her work titled ‘My Tattoos’ is one of her initial works and that is her and her dad’s favourite. ‘My Tattoos’ is a collection of faces, moods and people neatly stacked in one single canvas. “According to him that work of mine is a true reflection of the times we are living in. I remember doing that with a lot of fun; the challenge was to fit each of the portraits within the boxes,” she explains. And what would be Priyanka’s favourite from her dad’s collection? “Oh, when I was a kid, I saw him doing a painting called ‘Mashambhavi’. That was a painting of a well in his village in Kadireenigudam in Nalgonda district. That is my all time favourite,” she says.

This solo exhibition of Priyanka was first planned when she was set to leave abroad for her masters, but her mother’s ailing health made her change her mind and she decided to pursue her masters in the city. She says she is very lucky to have a famous artist as her dad who doesn’t intrude into her style of working. “He gives me space with what I do and then later criticises. That is a learning experience,” she smiles.

Priyanka will be showcasing 25 paintings and 65 drawings which she has done at every possible place. “I sketch and paint at any point of time. If I find some free time and my mind brings some memories, I don’t waste time in sketching my thoughts. I can say most of the drawings were done during my daily commute to college. Travelling 65 km while doing nothing was a waste of time, so I used that time fruitfully to sketch,” she smiles.

Priyanka’s exhibition titled ‘Eyena’ will be on from August 4 at Kalakriti Art Gallery.