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Brain injury survivor turns pain into paint

Updated on: 23 June,2024 05:44 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar | hemal@mid-day.com

Inspired by Souza, the upcoming exhibition by the 24-year-old Kemps Corner resident will showcase over 30 paintings

Brain injury survivor turns pain into paint

Rayna Arya has a tremor in her hands, and uses her fingers instead of a brush

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Artist Rayna Arya’s upcoming art exhibition, The Colourful Mirage at a Worli gallery from June 28 to July 13 is as much about colour as it is about courage. Arya, 24, suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in a hit-and-run accident while on a school trip to Khandala in 2012. She was 12 then.


The accident resulted in a coma, post which she had to be kept under medical observation round the clock. She overcame a plethora of challenges and undertook a rehabilitation journey that took her to the USA and Israel. Seven years later, she wrote a book titled Hope Exists. Arya’s “never give up” attitude reflects in her prose, poetry and paintings. Arya and her mother Sonica advocate for greater awareness about TBI in India.



The upcoming exhibition, which will feature 30 of her paintings, is yet another milestone for Arya. “I started preparing for the exhibition a year ago. The art medium I used is acrylic paints and pens on canvas,” said the Kemps Corner resident. Arya’s mother Sonica added, “Rayna has a tremor in one hand. She also finds it difficult to hold the brush at times, so she uses her fingers, a knife, a pen, or even a toothbrush to bring that canvas alive.”


Arya calls her art style, “Rayna style.” She said, “The paints talk to me. Picasso, Van Gogh and Francis Newton Souza inspire me. I find their work unrestrictive, loving Van Gogh’s strokes, Picasso’s cubism and Souza’s very strong black strokes. These help me navigate my style.” Using art as a broad umbrella term that is not just painting but spans the creative gamut, Arya credited a creative writing course she took at the University of Arts in London as one of the experiences integral to shaping the artist she is today.

Sonica added, “After the accident, Rayna was no longer in a position to do certain things she enjoyed doing earlier, like running, swimming or performing Kathak. She expresses all her thoughts and feelings—the challenges, the pain, the recoveries and overcoming each obstacle—through her writing and paintings.

Sonica described her daughter as “a real firecracker”. “This is the evidence of Rayna’s strength and resilience,” she said. The mother-daughter duo are excited as the clock ticks. Five days from now, the colourful mirage will not just be a mirage but reality.

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