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Rupa Samaria's love for birds

‘A Bird Call’ is an endeavour to give a voice to birds that are fast disappearing today. Some of the artist’s artworks showcase their beauty while others share a reminder on their fast declining population.

An image of an apostlebird being showcased at the exhibition.

Did you know there are 27 species of sparrows found in India and each one has different features? Have you ever seen apostlebirds and noticed their feathers? You don’t have to be a bird watcher or a wildlife photographer to notice the beauty of birds. Rupa Samaria’s exhibition ‘A Bird Call’ gives you a glimpse of the beauty of birds and shares a powerful message on their depleting population through the use of different mediums.

Rupa’s association with birds is not new. It dates back to her childhood days when she climbed trees and chased birds. As she grew old, this fascination also grew. So, she left her full-time job and decided to be an artist, with an exception that she would only paint birds.

Sharing how her passion to paint started, she says, “The idea to paint started eight years ago when I started working at the America Embassy School. At that time, I did a lot of projects and taught art and craft. Birds fascinated me because of their colour. I found them unique. So, I thought it would be interesting to paint them.”

Rupa shared that she observed peacock and took two months to paint it.

But unlike other artists who paint with their ideas, she studied the birds that she wanted to paint on the canvas and miniature pieces. She took help from her birding friends to understand the bodily features of different birds.

“My birding friends guided and helped me while painting. I also spoke to some ornithologists who warned me that during different times of the day, different colours fall on birds. So, acing the colour won’t be easy,” she explains.

Besides this, she also observed the birds on her own. “I wanted to paint peacock so I thought why not observe the colours instead of playing a fluke. I used to visit a deer’s park near my house where peacocks were regularly found. In fact, it took me two months to paint a peacock,” she says.

Rupa also took images of birds from 47 birders and bird photographers and studied them.

“I observed the colours of feathers and the ways in which they stood. I also observed the colours that were naturally present on their bodies. Some of bird photographers who helped me include NikhilDevasar, Sarvandeep, Raja Charles, Krishnamurti and Neol,” she says.

But, despite the presence of an image, she says replicating birds in their exact colours wasn’t easy. “My friends warned me that during different time of the day, these birds look different due to the sunlight. So when I painted, I got some colour correct. However, all birds might look similar to what they are naturally,” she explains.

Painting the town red: The beauty of Scarlet finch

With nearly 60 art pieces on display, the exhibition features owls, Scarlet finch, weavers, sparrows, peacocks, great hornbill, ashy prinia, apostlebird, satyr tragopan and kingfishers, to name a few. The artist is also showcasing 34 species of sparrows, some of which are rarely seen in the neighbourhood. Besides this, there are 15 species of kingfishers on display.

The artist has added various mediums, such as watercolours, acrylic, charcoal and interactive art, to depict these sprightly creatures. However, she took full freedom while choosing their poses and moods. The artist says that the mediums and materials were chosen based on the concept she wanted to highlight.

For instance, in the sound bird, she wanted viewers to hear the chirp of the bird. So, she added technology to the image so that people can hear the sound while looking at the picture. But since she also wanted to highlight the aftermath of the development in the cities, she did not add a distinct medium. She simply added an image of the cities in the eyes of the sparrows to send out the message of the declining population due to the building of concrete structures.

Rupa made these artworks during the two years of lockdown. “We wanted to showcase these artworks in 2020 but a few days before the show, the lockdown was announced. So, I took upon myself while sitting at home and added more pictures to the showcase,” she says.

The show will be open for public viewing till March 23 at the Visual Arts Gallery, New Delhi.

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