Artist Wistfully Traces Paths of Birds Now Absent From Our Skies

MG ROAD: With green cover and natural habitats disappearing, birds are no longer as welcome in urban skies as they once were. Artist Rekha Rao’s latest show Fly like a bird : Birds in Contemporary Art has a wistful quality as it recalls the need to stay connected with nature even as our cities get cemented against open skies.

The show will begin on April 24 at Galerie De’Arts. Curator Deepa Subramanian says, “Birds are a vivid expression of life. They teach us about perspective, unity, adaptability, freedom and most of all to spread our wings and fly. In an effort to bring attention to the significance of birds and their vital role in preserving a healthy environment, we are featuring  works by Rekha Rao.”

Deepa continues, “Beyond the message of conservation, the exhibition also explores spirituality, culture and history as represented through the interaction of the birds with humans.The show examines  the overlap between art and nature and emphasises both the ecological and ornithological concerns. Through paintings, both on canvas and on paper, the artist explores many themes, perhaps the most prominent being the interaction between contemporary culture’s relationship with the natural world and the importance of environmental consciousness.” 

 Clearly so many species of birds are on a rapid decline but the impulse to search for what is lost and what can still be redeemed environmentally is incredibly palpable and opines Deepa, “I think that is one of the things that inspires the artist and certainly has inspired me.”

Rekha Rao was groomed by her father KK Hebbar and held her first solo exhibition in Mumbai, in 1969. This was followed by several exhibitions both in India and abroad. Her works are represented in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Lalita Kala Academy, New Delhi, and Singapore National Museum. She received the Critics Award in 1971, the Lalita Kala Academy Award in 1977 and the Maharashtra State Award in 1978. Art critic Dr.Pramila Lochan says, “Rekha  ponders the looming imbalance of environs that is fast endangering the very existence of our feathered friends. Yet it is that time of the season when she wakes up to bird calls of the myna, cuckoo, crow pheasant and several other birds in her backyard. And so it is that birds and clouds imbue her paintings with their forms and colour.” Across the world, says  Lochan,  birds are often representative of religious, mythical and superstitious beliefs. Birds have played a role in the narrative history and legends of India as well but for Rekha, birds are a ‘symbol of spiritual freedom without any religious connotation.

Rekha says, “It is an ethereal feeling when I see birds in flight and perhaps a certain longing in my heart for a freedom that I may never achieve.”

Fly like a bird : Birds in Contemporary Art Galerie De’Arts11th Floor, Barton Centre 84 MG Road, Bengaluru


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