Did you know the colours of the birds change at different times of the day in keeping with the measure and strength of sunlight?” asks Delhi-based artist, educator and conservationist Rupa Samaria. “This makes it very challenging to get exact photographs of their real colour.” Her fascination for birds set in during her early days, hearing their twittering and chirping amidst the leafy trees surrounding her house in Patna. “I have always been intrigued by their uniqueness and striking plumage, and my artworks in vivid colours mirror the sprightly creatures in their natural resplendence,” she shares with a smile, on the eve of her solo exhibition – A Bird Call – at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre in the capital city
The graceful body language, expressive faces, and colorful diversity of birds inspire her countless creations on canvas. Rupa Samaria brings close to 50 artworks in an array of brilliant brushstrokes. Avian art brings its own challenges owing to the ecological relationship the artist established in the artworks, and this exhibition is a silent call for help, drawing attention to the rapidly dwindling population of our feathered friends as the concrete jungles thicken and throttle their natural habitats. Rupa goes about her work silently, and steadily, connecting with orinthologists for understanding the birds. She is focused on sending out a message to people through her art.
“Sometimes I take the liberty to explain my concept, and play with colours and shapes,” she explains. It stems from her love as an educator, as her passion has made her work on multiple bird projects with children, during her earlier association with the American Embassy school.
Are there any endangered species she has captured on canvas? “Plenty of them,” she retorts. “I have been working on owls, as they have been experiencing the brunt of human insensitivity in particular over the past few years. They are sought for their body parts like skulls, talons, beaks, feathers and even blood – a practice driven by irrational myths. Owls are massacred in our country during Diwali, for luck,” she rues, and adds, “Even the Forest Owlet is on the endangered list due to many reasons like human encroachment, forest fires, dams…”
Rupa’s repertoire is evocative of her penchant for birds and wildlife conservation, celebrating the stunning brilliance and delicate fragility of the winged creatures in equal measure through diverse mediums such as watercolours, acrylic, and charcoal. She has showcased her artworks pan India, spotlighting the fascinating contours of the kingfisher, the black-billed magpie, and the near-extinct house sparrow – She contributed to World Sparrow Day 2018, organised by Nature Forever Society, through her art exhibition at India Habitat Centre called Ek Thi Chidiya. Rupa’s towering art work for the Gaj Yatra (organised by the Wildlife Trust of India), was a beautiful four and a half foot tall sculpture of an elephant with a perched egret atop, titled “The bird and the elephant”. It is her ability to spin interesting dimensions through music and art that helps in educating children and adults about the rapidly disappearing population of birds in our surroundings